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Orange and Almond Cake

  1. Title 1
This summer, my mom and I went out for dinner at Lyra, new middle eastern restaurant in Nashville. The food was terrific, and by the end of the meal we were both stuffed. When the waitress asked if we wanted dessert we almost told her no thank you, but decided to take a look at the menu so that we could see whether ‘next time’ we should save room for dessert (we had already decided there would be a ‘next time’).

Reading through the menu, an orange almond cake caught our eye and, somewhat predictably, we decided to split it. “It’s gluten-, egg-, and dairy-free,” volunteered the waitress. We wondered if we’d made a mistake in ordering it.

The answer was no. The cake was incredibly moist, almost puddingy, and bursting with bright orange flavor. We immediately began peppering the waitress with questions -- was it an olive oil cake? Did it have orange extract in it? No and no. She told us the ingredients were orange, almonds, sugar and not much else.

When we got home we immediately began researching, and discovered that the recipe described to us had been popularized by British chef Claudia Roden. We made it the next day, and burned it to a crisp. We made it again, with the same result. The third time was the charm. Apparently, many of the versions available online misstate or miscalculate the correct oven temperature when converting the original celsius recipe into fahrenheit. After a bit of tinkering, we found that although most sources called for a 400 or 425 degree oven, 375 was closer to correct. We also added some cardamom and ginger because we like how they complement the orange. The resulting cake is just as good as the restaurant version, works well as a dessert when baking for people with special diets, and doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing a thing.




Claudia Roden's Orange and Almond Cake

Serves 10

Ingredients:

  • 2  large navel oranges
  • 6  eggs
  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp (½  pound) ground almonds
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp (½  pound) sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Instructions:
  1. Wash the oranges and simmer them, unpeeled, in water to cover for 2 hours.
  2. Once oranges are done simmering, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan (use gluten-free flour or more ground almonds if trying to remain gluten-free).
  3. Let oranges cool enough to handle then cut them open and remove the seeds. Puree the entire oranges, peels and all, in a food processor. If mixture still feels hot, let it cool further to avoid scrambling your eggs.
  4. Beat the eggs in a stand mixer or large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the orange puree, and mix thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Watch it like a hawk after the 40 or 45 min point! It will burn quickly. If the edges look like they are beginning to burn cover the cake loosely with tin foil while it finishes cooking.
  6. Cool completely in the tin before turning out. The cake will have a unique puddingy texture in the center, a little bit like a tres leches cake.