I first came across this delicious flourless orange cake in Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion about 15 years ago, who in turn adapted it from Claudia Roden. Born in Cairo, Roden wrote cookbooks that drill down into the flavours and traditions of Middle Eastern and Jewish cuisines in a way that few others have matched. Fun fact: Roden was Egypt’s national backstroke swimming champion at age 15, then went on to be a teacher, painter and foreign correspondent before turning her hand to writing cookbooks.
I love this cake because it has a deep orange flavour that is satisfying but never bitter. The texture is dense and a little nutty, yet light enough that a second helping is easily managed.
The recipe: Place two whole oranges – unpeeled – in a pot, just cover with water and poach gently for two hours. The oranges will plump up and the skin will become soft and giving. Let them cool, then preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Cut your oranges open, remove the pips, then throw the orange segments – rind and all – into a blender or food processor. Add six eggs and blitz until smooth and creamy. In a bowl, mix 250gm almond meal, 250gm sugar and a teaspoon of baking powder, then fold in the smooth, creamy orange-and-egg goodness. Pour the mixture into a prepared 24-centimetre springform cake tin and bake for 45 minutes in your 190-degree oven. The cake is ready when a knife stuck into its middle comes out clean (depending on your pan and the oranges you use, it could take up to an hour).
Tip: I always serve this cake with a generous splodge of cream. If you like extra tang, try using blood oranges or even lemons and limes in place of the oranges.
Watch it with:Mrs America (Foxtel), a dramatised series about the 1970s movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendments for gender equality in the US. I love how the costumes reflect the sentiments of the main characters: Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) in subdued silks, tweeds and knits versus Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) decked out in aviator sunglasses, denim and bold-print mini skirts.
Leftover potential: That depends on how much of this moreish cake you devour in one sitting. The good news is that if your willpower wins out, the cake stays moist for days. I get at least 12 slices out of this recipe.
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