Pssst Can you keep a secret? Yes? Good…. now what I am about to tell you must NEVER be told to anyone that is not a cook. Here it is …the secret handshake of the food lovers fraternity…. we share recipes….yep its true …and we pass little jars of quince paste, capsicum relish, greens picked from a home garden, a slice of the best fruit cake you could dream of, super fresh eggs, figs and more…(by the way, thank you, you know who you are)… it’s like our secret motto, our handshake or symbol, it helps define who we are. So now that I have told you my secret, what has someone clandestinely slipped your way recently?… saying ‘try this’ or thanks for inviting me please have this little jar of something? hmmm go on tell us!.
The recipe for this cake was given to me recently on a little slip of paper… “really weird orange cake” it said, and it was a bit like Alice in Wonderlands bottle saying ‘drink me’ …except this recipe was whispering ‘bake me’. Now a cake recipe that has no wheat flour and no butter does sound weird so I did a little research. The recipe here is based on the Sephardic orange-and-almond cake in Claudia Roden’s comprehensive book A New Book of Middle Eastern Food (yes you may borrow it if you want). The recipe was originally Jewish and the cake was baked during Passover.
This cake is a winner for me for two reasons; firstly all the ingredients can be bunged ( is that a cooking term?) into the food processor, saving on washing up ( though if you do it properly it could just be that little bit nicer) and secondly because Claudia Roden says that the cake can never fail ( you have to like that). Claudia says that if the cake is not cooked enough, it is moist enough to became a pudding served with a dollop of cream or mascarpone, and the moistness helps prevent the cake becoming too dry if it is overcooked ( I proved this having not checked oven temp properly and it had been set too high)
I have found several variations to the ‘original’ recipe that you could try; Jill Dupleix separates the eggs, making a cake that is lighter, my good friend who gave me the recipe said that a heaped tablespoon of poppy seeds added to the batter was good, and I made mine with a sort of almond brittle topping.
So have a go and remember keep on sharing those recipes and other goodies, oh and thanks again Mr R.
2 large or 3 medium oranges
225g caster sugar (or make it sugarless too and use 3/4 cup honey)
200g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
Place the clean, whole and unpeeled fruit in a little water, and bring to the boil. Simmer for at least 1½ hours or until soft, adding more water when necessary.
Drain the oranges, cut into quarters, discard any major pips, and whiz (including peel) in the food-processor, then cool. Throw in the rest, egg*, sugar, almonds, and baking powder.
Heat the oven to 180C
*Jill Dupleix says to just add the yolks then beat the egg whites until softly peaky and fold gently into the mixture.
Pour into a 23cm (9in) springform cake tin and bake for an hour, until firm to the touch (cover with a loose sheet of foil if over-browning). Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar to serve.