The gluten-free part is irrelevant for me. I am one of those people who has no food intolerances (also known as a European). I consume dairy, eggs, gluten, saturated fat, in short: everything and have never been tempted into a purging of my diet in an attempt to achieve clarity of mind, gain energy or a slimmer figure (isn’t that what coffee is for?). So yes-that it’s ‘gluten free’ is more informative than anything.
We used to make this cake at Melrose and Morgan, the girls from Triyoga up in Primrose Hill would come, perch on the corner of something small and daintily nibble on it (imagine a svelte glossy haired gerbil if you will) while they sipped on something seemingly virtuous and always caffeine free (chamomile tea, fresh mint tea, hot water with a slice of lemon-I could never figure out how much to charge for that?)
It was the one cake pastry loved to have on the cake rota because it was easy. Boil some oranges, bung everything but the kitchen sink into a food processor and whiz. When the kitchen timer went off to say it was ready, they could let it languish – oh up to 15 minutes more since this is one cake you can’t over bake (the almonds and orange keep it moist for an exceptionally long time). In fact, a one day old orange and almond cake is almost better than one that is freshly baked.I liked this cake a lot but it was a bit like that guy I always hung out with as a teen that was a good friend but not exciting enough to be elevated to the status of boyfriend. And then I went to Sweet Things in Primrose Hill and all of a sudden, the orange cake went all Patrick Dempsey in Can’t Buy Me Love on me (it pains me that there are those of you who don’t know to what I am referring here let’s just say, the cake went turbo and that Patrick Dempsey was not always Dr. Derek Shepherd.)
What Sweet Things did was to add a chocolate ganache. The dimension that this added to the moist gritty cake was incredible. And even if you aren’t someone who hankers after the orange and chocolate combination – I urge you to try this incarnation.
2 oranges, preferably seedless
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
6 eggs, separated
1 Tablespoon baking powder, sifted
300g ground almonds
125 ml of cream
125g of 52% dark chocolate
1. Put the oranges in a saucepan, cover with water. Place a plate over the oranges to keep them submerged. Boil until soft, about 1 hour. Drain, then quarter each orange, removing any seeds you come across. Pulse the oranges in a food processor until chopped. Measure out 300g of the orange pulp.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Grease and line a 26cm round spring-form cake tin with baking paper.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and pale. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the baking powder and almonds. Add to the butter mix, alternating with the orange pulp in 3 additions.
4. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and carefully fold into the mixture.
5. Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 200°C for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC and bake for a further 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake.
6. In a heat proof bowl, break up 125g of dark chocolate (I use Lindt 52% for this). Bring 125ml of cream to the boil. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and stir to amalgamate. Allow to cool and set a little, then spread on the orange cake.
Do the above up to point 2.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients to the 300g of orange pulp you have in the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together.
4. Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 200°C for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC and bake for a further 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake.
5. In a heat proof bowl, break up 125g of dark chocolate (I use Lindt 52% for this). Bring 125ml of cream to the boil. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and stir to amalgamate. Allow to cool and set a little, then spread on the orange cake.