Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orange and Almond Cake with Goldenberries and Cardamom (Gluten and Grain Free)

A moist, decadent almond cake with a hint of the exotic.

As ever, I was on the quest to create delicious cakes that can be enjoyed without gluten (for my daughter) without any of the dryness or grittiness that can sometimes be a downfall of gluten free cakes.

As this one is naturally gluten free because it is made with ground almonds, there is none of that - just a delicious moist and tasty cake that everyone will enjoy. In fact, it turned out so delicious that I didn't actually want to share it with the children!! (But I did, of course, because sharing is caring!!). This is based on a traditional Italian orange and almond cake, so if you can't get hold of goldenberries, you don't have to add them - or you could substitute some dried fruit of your choice (e.g. sultanas or chopped apricots). Cardamom is also an addition of mine, which is a spice I love to pair with oranges, so if you're not a fan, don't add it - although I think it's delicious!

It's very rich, and I think once it has had its dusting of icing sugar, with the complex flavours it is easily sophisticated enough to serve at a dinner party (and probably too posh for lunchboxes)! Either way, I highly recommend it, even though you might suspect me to be biased. I'd say there are at least 12 servings, given the richness.

  • 3 oranges
  • 350g golden caster sugar (200g+150g)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 300g ground almonds (ensure gluten free)
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed as finely as possible, plus 6 pods, bruised
  • 100g goldenberries, roughly chopped (dried physalis/cape gooseberries) - or substitute sultanas / chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
  •  Icing sugar to decorate
  • (Optional toasted flaked almonds to decorate - 50g, optional full fat Greek yoghurt to serve)

1. Place two of the oranges into a pan, cover with cold water, put the lid on and bring to the boil then simmer for one hour. Drain and leave to cool

2. Lightly grease and line a 22-23cm round pan with greaseproof baking paper. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 / 190C / 170C Fan Oven. Coarseley chop the oranges, removing and discarding any pips. Blend to a smooth puree (Thermomix 20 seconds / Speed  6, then scrape down then 20 seconds / Speed  5) then set aside.

3. Whisk the eggs and 200g of the sugar together for a few minutes until pale and creamy - best done with electric food beaters or similar (Thermomix - butterfly whisk in, 3 minutes / Speed 3)

4. Add the orange puree, ground almonds, crushed cardamom seeds (not pods), chopped goldenberries and baking powder, and fold in gently until combined (Thermomix - butterfly whisk in, 1 minute / Speed 1 - then lift out the whisk, scrape off and give a quick extra stir around with the spatula to ensure evenly mixed).

5. Pour into the lined tin, spread out as evenly as possible with a very slight dip in the middle, and bake for approximately 50 minutes to one hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. The surface texture of the cake won't change much while cooking (which is why it's important to smooth it before baking), and it won't look that pretty when you take it out, but don't worry, it will look lovely once it's finished!

6. Meanwhile, prepare a syrup to pour over the cake by finely grating the zest of the third orange, then adding the juice, the 6 bruised cardamom pods, and the remaining 150g of sugar. Put over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves, and continue to cook until thickened into a syrupy consistency. Keep an eye on it, as there will come a point where it bubbles up (a bit like boiling milk) where you'll need to take it off the heat or turn the heat down - it will be ready just after this.

7. One the cake is cooked, prick the top all over with a skewer plenty of times, leave to cool for a few minutes, and then pour the syrup on top to soak in. If you want to, you can sprinkle some flaked almonds on top just after you've poured the syrup on (so they stick). Allow the cake to cool completely, and the syrup to soak in and then dust with icing sugar before serving (I left mine overnight for the syrup to soak in).

Delicious served with plain full fat Greek yoghurt which really complements the almond and orange flavours. You could serve some fresh physalis / cape gooseberries on the side too, to pretty it up!

If you fancy making this as more of a 'slice', you can cook it in a square baking tray, about 22.5cm square, and it will take less time - around 35-40 minutes - this way, it's great for lunchbox treats, or to take to work in smaller bites!

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