Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Flourless Orange Almond Cake-Simple or Sublime

You are probably seeing citrus cakes or other citrus creations popping out every where in food blogs nowadays. The citrus crop is at its peak, so every one is having fun with these versatile fruits, especially after the dull months of winter where one can only find apples and pears. This cake is different than most as it is gluten free, and it has a wonderful bitterness imparted by the orange skin. I am not sure where I saw the recipe originally but it comes from the Times on line food section, and in turn it was inspired by a cake published by Claudia Roden in her boook A New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

I knew this cake would be perfect for my Scottish friend and neighbor C., who cannot eat gluten and was coming over for dinner so I made it for her. The cake is super easy, but needs planning as the oranges need to be cooked for more than an hour. I suppose you can cook the oranges the day before you actually make the cake, to spare some time. The original recipe makes a very high cake and I wasn't happy with the too wet/maybe raw center of the cake, so the second time I made it I baked it in two smaller pans and the results were perfect. I also added cardamom because I love it, as you probably have noticed here. Orange and cardamom are one of those matches made in food heaven. For the pictured cake I used blood oranges, so the cake was darker, more brown, the one made with navel oranges came out of a lighter color.

Not because I can't eat gluten, but because I have lots of friends and customers who can't I have been trying lots of gluten free recipes to add to my repertoire. I also plan to offer lots of gluten free options at the restaurant where I will start working in April. This cake is a winner, so moist and delicious. The orange skin gives the cake a bitter note that becomes tamer the next day, and the cardamom is subtle but you know it is there to give the cake an extra zing. I am not sure this is a cake that will please everybody, as it is slightly bitter and not too sweet, but for those who get the flavors, it is heavenly.

This cake is perfect the way it is, with a little powder sugar on the top, but if you want to go over the top, pour some warm chocolate glaze over it, and serve it with orange or tangerine cream (I used paige mandarins), and candied kumquats or orange peel. Delicious!

Orange and Almond Cake
Adapted from this recipe


3 medium oranges
6 large eggs, separated
225 gr. granulated sugar (8oz.)
200 gr. ground whole almonds (7oz.)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom

METHOD: Place the clean, whole and unpeeled fruit in water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1½ hours or until soft, adding more water when necessary. Drain the oranges, cut into quarters, discard any major pips, and puree the fruit in a food-processor, then cool. Heat the oven to 180C/350F. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale. Beat in the oranges, almonds, and baking powder. Beat the egg whites until soft peak and fold gently into the mixture.

Pour into a 23cm (9") spring form cake pan and bake for an hour, until firm to the touch (cover with foil if over-browning). Cool in the pan and dust with icing sugar to serve. Or dress it up with chocolate glaze and serve it with orange cream sauce.

Chocolate glaze
From Alice Medrich Cocolat

8 oz bittersweet chocolate. chopped finely (225 gr)
6 oz butter (170 gr)
1 TBS light corn syrup
2 TBS water

Place all the ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the double boiler when it is almost, but not quite, melted. Set the glaze aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until perfectly smooth. When the glaze is smooth and shiny, pour it over the cake to cover it completely or partially. Chill the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the glaze before removing it from the rack. This glaze last for weeks in the fridge, just warm it up again at low heat in a double boiler.

Orange Cream Sauce

from Emily Luchetti A Passion for Dessert

2 TBS sugar
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed citrus juice (4 oz./12o ml)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream (10 oz./300 ml.)
Grated peel from one orange

Cook the citrus juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the juice reduces to about 1 1/2 TBS. Stir in the cream. Cook until the cream begins to boil around the edges. In a medium bowl combine the yolk with the sugar. Slowly pour the cream into the yolks. Pour back into the sauce pan and cook slowly until thickened, and the cream coats the back of a spoon. Strain the cream and stir in the orange peel. Chill over a ice bath, and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Gaia said...

brava! non e' poi difficile preparare anche le pietanze di questo tipo vero? io l'ho scoperto da poco...
questa torta è bellissima!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Orange and chocolate, that's a winner combo. A gorgeous little cake!



Dina said...

a flourless cake! wonderful!

Giò said...

per me questa è la malefica torta agli agrumi!! ho già provato due ricette simili ed è sempre venuta un disastro, tipo gomma....uffi, la tua sembra così soffice(in effetti ci sono 2 uova in +)

Laura said...

Gaia, trovo difficile convertire una torta con la farina a una torta senza farina, ma le cose senza glutine sono a migliaia, tante hanno la farina di mandorle.

Rosa, when I tasted the cake with the chocolate glaze I had one of those culinary experiences you remember forever.

Dina, I hope you try this cake.

Gio', prova questa ricetta e poi dimmi come viene. E' molto soffice.

Simona said...

A very interesting preparation for the oranges. Your cake looks very elegant. I also like the combination orange and chocolate. And adore the color of blood oranges.

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Oh my, this looks fantastic! I will definitely make the glaze, as chocolate and orange has to be one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations, and I am not shy about going over the top!

Nanny said...

Arancia e cioccolato sono uno dei migliori abbinamenti per i dolci :)

Rosa said...

Looking for some delicious italian recipes to make for your family? Check out Contadina Recipes at http://www.contadina.com/recipes/default.aspx.

This message is being posted on behalf of Contadina and we hope that it is of interest for you.

Laura said...

Simona, try this recipe, it lends to be very rustic or elegant.

Susan, I am with you, orange and chocolate are a match made in food heaven.

Nanny, non potrei essere piu' d'accordo.

Julia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julia said...

I am making this tonight. I can't wait!

natural selection said...

Your a star with desserts plain and simple!they are never complicated and delicious!

Laura said...

Julia, I hope you come back to tell how it turned out.

Natural Selection, thanks! That's how I like desserts, simple but delicious. Doing an internship at Chez Panisse really made me realize that that's how I like it.

Julia said...

It turned out great!!!! Thanks for commenting on it, b/c for the life of me I couldn't remember which website I found my inspiration from. Now I do. Seriously, everyone LOVED it. I didn't add the cardamom b/c the people I was making it for were so picky, but, I LOVE that spice so next time I will add it.

Laura said...

Hi Julia! I have the same problem remembering where I get the recipes, but now I learned to write down where I found the recipe, just under the title, too many great blogs around and I don't want to forget them.

I love your photos BTW!

I am glad you liked it. It is going to be a cake I make over and over again.

Lisa Michelle said...

This looks amazing, Laura. I can almost taste the fresh orange and chocolate. Reminds me of this orange ravani recipe I used to have that I lost :( I'm going to try this!! OH, Beautiful photos too!

Alisa-Foodista said...

It looks wonderful! I love the combination of orange and chocolate.

Aurelio Barattini said...

Un dessert veramente affascinante e sublime.. i miei complimenti

Laura said...

Lisa Michelle, I hope you try this because it is delicious!

Alista, thanks for stopping by!

Aurelio, mi sento molto fiera di aver ricevuto i tuoi complimenti. Sei di Lucca, una citta' dove non sono mai stata. Siena la conosco bene invece. A presto!

elra said...

Lovely flourless orange-almond cake. Delicious tweak with cardamom. The chocolate glaze from Alice Medrich is the best I think.


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