Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cake with Orange Syrup and Mint Sugar

Middle Eastern Orange and Almond Cake with Orange Syrup and Mint Sugar

Oranges were bountiful this winter, and we are very fortunate to have access to a beautiful orange tree. Now that I am retired, I have time to freeze the oranges and use later in cakes, desserts etc. Oranges freeze very well. Activity in my kitchen reflects produce that is growing in my garden or what I am given and I love that self sufficient approach. Oranges straight from the tree rather than the supermarket also ensure that they are preservative free.

We are expecting guests over the weekend, so the oranges are cooking in the saucepan and when cooled I will make this wonderful Middle Eastern orange cake recipe. This cake is very moist and quite dense and the cooked peel gives it a tart and seductively exotic flavour. It can also be served with an orange syrup and mint leaves and extra slivered pistachio nuts for a special dessert.

I often cook the basic and more economical version of this cake, without the pistachio nuts, and it is just as delicious. The cake tin selected should be big enough so that the batter is no deeper than 6cm or the cake will take much longer to cook. A 23cm tin suits this recipe.

This recipe is adapted from the wonderful Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion.

"A classic Passover dessert that draws on the Sephardic traditions of the Mediterranean, Morocco and the Middle East. In this recipe whole oranges are boiled for two hours and then puréed skin, pips and all. Not only is this cake incredibly moreish and moist, it is also gluten and dairy-free making it the perfect all-rounder. "  SBS

Serves 8



2 large organic oranges, unpeeled and washed
6 eggs, beaten
250 g ground almonds (almond meal)
250 g white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup pistachio nuts, finely ground (optional)

1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves, plus extra to serve
1/2 cup pistachio nuts, slivered
yoghurt, whipped cream or creme fraiche to serve

Orange Syrup:

1 cup orange juice
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon Cortas Orange Flower Water

Cake Method:

Boil the oranges in a little water in a covered saucepan for 2 hours. Allow to cool, then cut open, remove pips and chop roughly.

Preheat oven to 190deg. C and butter and flour a 23cm springform tin. Blend oranges and remaining ingredients thoroughly in a food processor. Pour batter into prepared tin. Bake for 50mins to1 hour. If cake is still very wet, cook a little longer. Cool in tin before gently turning out.

Orange Syrup:

For dessert, the cake can be served with an orange syrup flavoured with Orange Flower Water

1 cup orange juice
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon Cortas Orange Flower Water

To make the orange syrup, place orange juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium, bring to the boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened to a syrup. Add Orange Flower Water. The syrup could take up to 15 minutes to thicken whilst stirring occasionally and attending to other things in the kitchen. Set aside and it will thicken even more.


Place sugar and mint in a food processor and pulse until combined. Place mint sugar and slivered pistachios in a bowl and toss to combine. Place on top of the cake and serve with orange syrup and crème fraiche, yoghurt or whipped cream.

Or alternatively it can be served with a pile of citrus segments and the best thick cream.

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