Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Orange and Almond Cake



Sweet and sticky with a beautiful nutty flavour laced with orange and cinnamon.  This is a really impressive cake which simply develops the basic sponge recipe and elevates it to a massive crowd pleaser.  Orange and almond is a great combination and has a real taste of the Mediterranean.

Making an orange and cinnamon syrup to be poured over the cake when cooked brings a glorious stickiness and also gets more flavour into the sponge.

Make sure you buy whole almonds with the skin on as the flavour is so much better than the pre – skinned ones.  Almonds can be replaced with hazelnuts if you prefer.

I’ve chosen a simple segmented orange and mint accompaniment to balance the sweetness but you could easily use crème fresh instead.


Read my post on how to bake a sponge for the basics…


The technique is the same but with a few added twists…

Ingredients

For the cake…
  • 2 eggs weighed in their shells
  • Equal quantities of caster sugar, butter and self raising flour.
  • The zest of one large orange
  • 75g whole almonds with the skin on.
  • A little whole milk
For the syrup…
  • A small stick of cinnamon
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75 ml water
  • The juice of one large orange
To serve…
  • Two large oranges
  • A sprinkling of caster sugar
  • Chopped mint

Utensils

  • A big mixing bowl
  • An 18cm cake tin
  • A wooden spoon
  • A metal spoon
  • A skewer
  • A sharp filleting knife.

Method

Pre – heat your oven to 180 °C / Fan 160 °C

Have your cake tin greased and ready to go.

Blanche your almonds by pouring boiling water onto the almonds in saucepan.  Leave for a couple of minutes.  Drain.  You should be able to squeeze the almond and it pops out of the skin cleanly.  If not, repeat the process until it does.



Place the almonds on a baking tray and put in your pre - heated oven to brown.  About 10 minutes should suffice but keep your eye on them as they must not burn!

Reserve 8 of the nicest looking almonds for decoration and then bash the rest into coarse pieces in a pestle and mortar or under a tea towel with a rolling pin works well.



Using the wooden spoon cream the butter, orange zest and sugar together in the mixing bowl until pale and fluffy and lots of air has been incorporated.  10 minutes should do it depending on the strength of your arm!

Whisk your eggs in a separate bowl and gradually start to add a little at a time to your butter / sugar mix.  Beat well between each addition and incorporate all the egg before adding more.  If it looks like it has split then you can add a teaspoon of flour to stabilize it.

Once all the egg had been added then sieve your flour into the bowl.  Sieving gets rid of lumps and incorporates more air.

Fold in the flour using the large metal spoon.  Check for dropping consistency.  Add milk a little at a time if the mixture is too thick.

Then fold in the bashed up almonds.

Spoon the mixture into your pre – greased cake tin.  Try to smooth it level and have the edges higher than the centre as it will rise more in the middle.

Put it straight into the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes depending on your oven. 


Meanwhile, make your syrup…

In a small saucepan place the sugar, water, orange juice and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a gentle simmer and let it seethe until it has reached a sticky syrupy state yet is still most definitely mobile.  It needs to be a pouring consistency.  Remember also that it will thicken as it cools, you can always return to the heat to reduce more if needed.



Now the Orange and Mint…

Simply segment the orange (there are lots of instructional videos on YouTube) and then mix with chopped fresh mint and a sprinkling of caster sugar depending on the sweetness of your orange!


Remove the cake from the oven and insert a skewer.  If it comes out clean with no mixture sticking to it then it is ready. If there is any mixture on the skewer return to the oven for another few minutes. 

Allow to cool a little and then release from the tin and put on a cooling rack.  While still warm, pierce the top all over with the skewer to create small holes for the syrup to penetrate.



Pour the syrup all over making sure it gets into all the holes and is smoothed over the whole top of the cake.

Decorate with the reserved almonds and pieces of orange.  The rest of the orange can be served by the side of each slice.



Lovely at any time.





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