Using only a few ingredients this deliciously rich, moist and aromatic flourless cake, has an intense fresh orange flavour, and is an all time classic.
Claudia Roden’s orange and almond cake has a wonderful intense flavour and aroma of fresh oranges.
It is one of our favourite winter cakes, while oranges are in season, and it’s always a hit over the holidays. The fresh citrus flavour and pudding-like texture are a perfect way to end a rich meal or family feast at Christmas.
This recipe is from Claudia Roden’s ‘A Book of Middle Eastern Food’, first published in 1968. Roden explains that it was popular amongst the Sephardic Jews who brought it to the Middle East in the 15th century.
The cake has since become a classic in cuisines from Spain to Iran.
With a dense crumb exterior and a soft centre, Roden describes this cake as ‘somewhere between a cake and a pudding‘.
This wonderful citrus cake is incredibly easy to make and although it does take some time, the result is hugely rewarding.
Why boiled oranges?
This recipe calls for 2 large oranges which are boiled till fork tender, then puréed whole. The purée is added to a mixture of eggs and almond flour and then baked slowly on a low heat.
Boiling whole oranges for one and a half to two hours softens them and draws out most of the bitterness from the peel and pith. This is a very rewarding process as it gives a far superior flavour, rather than using uncooked oranges, only the zest, or an orange extract.
The orange purée has a fresh, sharp, sweet flavour making the cake wonderfully aromatic.
This cake uses almond flour (also known as almond meal) which is just ground almonds.
TIP: For best results, grind the almonds to a smooth powder in a blender. Freshly ground almonds release oils and give a much better flavour than store bought almond flour.
The almond flour releases oil as it bakes which combines beautifully with the fresh orange flavour, giving a grainy slightly dense texture to the cake.
To make it gluten free
Almond flour is suitable for a gluten free diet but you will need to use a gluten free baking powder.
Make it paleo
For a paelo diet, substitute the sugar with honey. The amount of honey required would depend on the variety of honey used.
Use roughly one and a half cups of a light honey with a mild flavour so that it does not overpower the cake.
Then lower the oven temperature by 25℉/20℃ so it doesn’t burn. You may need to extend the cooking time by a few minutes due to the extra moisture.
Six medium eggs may seem like rather alot but they give the cake a wonderful custard-y richness, not to mention a high protein count of 7g per serving! Trust me it won’t be overpowering in the slightest!
Then cake is baked slow and long, with a baking time of 45 mins-1 hour, as the cake mixture has a high water content.
The finished cake will have a golden brown crust with a moist and pudding-like or custard-y soft interior. It is absolutely delicious!
These are some tips on the equipment and ingredients.
- Springform pan – as the cake is so moist this pan is essential for removing the cake to prevent it breaking. This recipe uses a 9-inch pan, for any other size pan you will need to adjust cooking times and check to see if it is done.
- Large oranges – as whole oranges are used in this recipe, it is best to use organic as they are easier to scrub clean. Select the best seasonal oranges for flavour, and the largest for a perfect proportion of zest to pith and pulp.
- Ground almonds – or almond flour which is also called almond meal. This is easily available in most shops, or you could make your own by grinding almonds in a blender. Freshly ground almond flour will have a better flavour.
- Baking powder – select a gluten-free variety of baking powder for a gluten-free diet.
- Butter – Use oil to grease the pan to make this cake dairy free.
How to make it
- Wash the oranges well and place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 1 ½ – 2 hours, till the oranges are soft and tender. Remove the oranges from the water and set aside to cool. Slice the oranges in half to remove any pips.
- Blend the oranges (peel, pith and pulp) till it is puréed.
- In a separate mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and orange purée.
- Mix together well.
- Grease an 8 or 9-inch springform pan and pour the mixture into it.
- Bake for around 45 minutes or till the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out only slightly sticky.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing from the springform tin.
Need a topping?
Add even more flavour with a layer of melted chocolate or a glaze of melted apricot jam, spread over the top of the cake once it has cooled.
Cover the cake and store at room temperature on the kitchen counter for up to 5 days.
To freeze, cut the cake into slices and wrap well. It will retain its flavour for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or on the counter.
Try these similar cake recipes
Here are a few similar cake recipes which are a real hit with family and friends!
Kladdkaka – for chocolate lovers everywhere! This Swedish chocolate cake has a crispy top, chewy edges and a soft and rich gooey center!
New York Cheesecake – this cheesecake is rich, smooth, fluffy and moist! It is my favourite cheesecake recipe ever!
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Claudia Roden’s Orange And Almond Cake
- Springform pan
- 2 large oranges
- 6 medium eggs
- 250 grams ground almonds 2½ cups (almond flour/meal)
- 1 tablespoon ground almonds for dusting
- 250 grams sugar 1 cup
- 1 teaspoon baking powder * see recipe notes
- butter or oil for greasing
- ½ cup apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon water
- confectioner’s sugar (optional) for dusting
- Wash the oranges and place in a saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 90 to 120 minutes, till the oranges are soft. Remove the oranges and set aside to cool.2 large oranges
- Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃/160℃ Fan
- Slice the oranges in ½ to remove any pips. Purée the oranges (including the peel, pith and flesh) in a blender.
- Separately, beat eggs in a large bowl. To this, add the ground almonds, sugar, baking powder and orange purée and mix together well.6 medium eggs, 250 grams ground almonds, 250 grams sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter and dust lightly with ground almonds.1 tablespoon ground almonds
- Pour the mixture into the springform pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.
- Allow to cool in the tin before removing from the springform.
- In a small saucepan on medium heat, add the jam and water. Stir till the jam melts and the becomes like a thick syrup, coating the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and cool till warm. Brush over cake and allow to cool.½ cup apricot jam, 1 tablespoon water
- This recipe was adapted from Claudia Roden’s recipe.
- The cake tastes even better the next day as the flavours develop.
- The glaze is not a part of Claudia Roden’s recipe, but works beautifully with this cake.
- *To make it gluten free cake, use a gluten free baking powder
- To make it paleo use one and a half cups of a light honey with a mild flavour instead of sugar.
- Fan assisted ovens, reduce the baking temperature by 50℉/20℃ degrees and you may need to reduce the cooking time. So check the cake in the last 20 minutes, by inserting a clean knife through the middle. If it comes out wet, check again after another 5-10 minutes. If it comes out only slightly sticky, it is done.
- Texture – Claudia Roden states that this cake should have a cake -y exterior and a pudding-like center.
- Store in an air-tight tin at room temperature for 4- 5 days or wrap individual slices and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge or on the counter.