Citrus and Almond Cake

Citrus and almond cake

I constantly try to expand and push the boundaries , within the limits of my humble kitchen, utensils and skills to discover the most perfect or intense dessert I have ever experienced.  I don’t try to be overly sophisticated or the expert but I enjoy sharing my discoveries of wonderment with friends and fellow bloggers when I do find a perfect recipe  or tasted something new and wonderful.. yes sharing my love for food with like minded friends and family or fellow bloggers is something I truly enjoy doing. By sharing you are bringing joy to other’s life, and many have already done that through their respective food blogs.

Like what Jamie Oliver said in TED, we have lost the art of passing on the tradition of home cooking to the next generations. The current Y generations are already ruled by fast foods and tv dinners. Cooking at home is a ritual and a very good way to connect with your family, the food you eat and ultimately yours and your family’s wellbeing. I am hoping I can do my part to keep it going through this blog, my passion is baking.  Home baking and food blogs rule!

Therefore, as you may well guess, the values I uphold strictly in my baking would be no artificial colouring or extracts, no corn oil or corn syrup or any GMO potential products, strictly organic fruits if I need to use their peels and only using the freshest and very good quality ingredients I can get my hands on.

AND as for my baking inspiration, it comes from  what I find in the market or in season, special requests from friends and relatives, a new cookbook and more often than not,  my own cravings !

I made this cake for my 2 BFF, one because it is her birthday the following day ( and since I could not celebrate it with her in Dubai, told her I was making it in her honour) while the cake’s flavour was inspired by my other BFF, who lives here in Singapore. She does not fancy desserts at all, or chocolates ( I told her she was really weird) with the exception of desserts with oranges, and that apparently for some reason goes down well with her. So what is the most intense orange cake one can make? After much reading and research, it was a toss up between a Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern ‘Orange and Almond Cake’ OR Rose Levenbaums ‘True Orange Genoise’. I couldn’t make up my mind.

When I can’t make up my mind I always say try everything! So why not try both? I was about to attempt Claudia Roden’s* but a coincidental stumble upon Orangette’s blog – made me switch course slightly. Admittedly there are many versions running around on the internet – but hers appealed the most to me because it has a more cakey texture due to flour used and hence less pudding like. As usual with the immense wealth of information shared by generous food bloggers on the internet, you normally can find exactly what you are looking for. 

Dried sugared tangerine (kat paeng)

So I am grateful for people like Molly of  Orangette,  who calls hers marmalade cake – a recipe which I am adapting slightly. I added dried/sugared tangerine pieces + 2 tbp of milk to the pulp. I just called it a citrus cake because of the combinations of  the orange, lemon and tangerine 😉  For those who love the citrusiness in a cake, this may just be your best favourite. It is not too sweet. There is a slight bitter aftertaste – indeed like a bitter orange marmalade. It goes really, really well with clotted cream (kaymak) or if you can’t get it,  fresh whipped cream.

Recipe

1 medium orange
1 lemon
1 piece of kat paeng (dried sugared tangerine)
180 g raw almonds
1 cup + 2 tbp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
½ tsp. table salt
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
2 tbp of milk
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

I would use organic lemon and orange if available. Clean them properly. Put the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Drain, and cool.

Preheat the oven to 160°C, to toast the almonds.Set a rack in the middle position. Put the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan, and bake until they look golden, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. When the almonds are cool, pulse them with the candied tangerine in a food processor until finely ground, the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

Set the oven to 175°C, and grease and line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan.

When the citrus is cool, cut the lemon in half, and scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Cut the orange in wedges, and check for seeds, discard them. Put the lemon rind and orange pieces in the food processor – pulse them to a coarse paste, stir the milk through. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.

Combine the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat until foamy and thick. Gradually beat in the sugar and oil. Here the mixture becomes thicker. I beat for about 5 minutes in total.

Now fold in the flour mixture, followed by the citrus-milk paste, almonds+candied tangerine and beat on low speed to just incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan. Before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar, to be eaten with kaymak or fresh whipped cream.

Note: This cake keeps well and does taste even better in the next coming days. Store it at room temperature, except if your home is hot and humid, put it in the refridgerator , covered with plastic wrap. Bring it out for about 15 minutes before serving.

* Claudia’s orange and almond cake is a common cake found in the Mediterannean/Middle East region

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