Longer, lighter, brighter days; warmer air; lighter clothing. Daffodils, asparagus, rhubarb; freshly-cut grass. Does it count as a spring shower even if it’s pouring?
The arrival of spring is usually a slow, faltering process, and you can never be quite sure you’re past the cold snaps for good, but watching out for the small signs of promise that the world is, slowly, waking and warming once more is a pleasure in itself. It always feels appropriate that Easter falls in spring, given that it’s message is, like the daffodils and the dawn, one of new life and fresh hope.
This cake is for the Easter weekend, and is based on a Spanish method of making orange cake which involves using the entire oranges. This appealed to me on so many levels — think of the vitamins and the flavour! Boiling oranges for an hour and separating out six eggs, on the other hand, seemed like far too much effort to me, as a lazy corner-cutting batter-eating baker. I looked around and found that not all recipes specified that the eggs had to be separated, and some people had had success microwaving rather than boiling the oranges. So I adjusted the recipe to use blood oranges — they seem much more springlike, somehow — swapped the caster sugar for coconut palm sugar (but by all means use regular sugar if you don’t have any of this), and used the easiest methods possible. The result was a beautifully moist and flavoursome gluten-free cake that comes together so easily and with only five ingredients. I think it would make a lovely, fresh addition to any Easter tea table.
For the cake
- 250g ground almonds
- 6 eggs
- 2 blood oranges
- 200g coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
For the glaze and garnish
- 1 whole blood orange, thinly sliced
- juice of 1/2 a blood orange
- 25g coconut sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan 160). Grease a 9 inch cake tin with coconut oil or butter.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the two oranges (you’re using them whole, peel and all). With a sharp knife, make two deep cuts across each orange, penetrating about half way through the oranges, so that you have a cross-shaped slash in each one. Place in a microwave proof dish, cover, and microwave for around 10 minutes until cooked. (You can, alternatively, skip the slashing and just boil them whole in a pan of water for about an hour…but that takes longer, so why would you?)
- Leave the oranges to cool for a while, and when they’re a manageable temperature chop them up a bit and remove any pips. Put them both in the food processor and pulse into a smooth paste — but don’t worry if it’s not too smooth, chunks of peel are quite nice in the cake.
- If you want the orange decoration on top of the cake (as in the photos) lay the thin slices at the bottom of the cake tin (you may not need the whole orange).
- Add the ground almonds, eggs and baking powder to the food processor and pulse until everything is smooth and combined. Pour into the cake tin on top of the orange slices and bake for around 25-35 minutes, until cooked through.
- Mix together the juice of 1/2 a blood orange and the 25g coconut sugar to form a syrup. When the cake is just out of the oven and still in the tin, prick it with a fork and pour over the syrup.
- Leave for about 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve alone or with a dollop of cream.