Spring baking: Orange and Almond Cake

Orange Almond CakeBirthday cakes are, almost inevitably, chocolatebased in my family. It is undoubtedly the default option, beloved by everybody, not least by the birthday celebrants. This year, however, we were to celebrate the mother’s (January) birthday on an unseasonably bright February day and – unusually – I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate baking.

After a discussion with my normal cooking-partner-in-crime, the Little Sister, and inspired by the amount of citrus fruit in the shops, I went down the orange and almond road instead, making a light but very moist cake. It seemed, at the time, to be the season for lighter cooking – an idea promptly destroyed by subsequent appearances of hail, ice and snow.

With things warming up this week in North Cork, it might be time for the cake to make another outing. Being so moist, it keeps well, not that you’ll have too many problems with that. To serve it as a pudding, we scattered the top of the cake with the seeds of a pomegranate and drizzled it with natural yoghurt. Pomegranates may be out of season now but orange segments wouldn’t go amiss instead. The tart freshness felt like a real antidote to the necessary heaviness of most winter cooking. With there being a real stretch in the evenings, it’s time to start enjoying food for spring!

Orange and Almond Cake
Buttermilk or natural yoghurt – 250mls
Light muscovado sugar – 200g
Eggs – 2
Cointreau or another orange liqueur – 1 tablespoon
Plain flour – 200g
Baking powder – 1½ teaspoon
Bread soda – 1 teaspoon
Sea salt – 1 pinch
Ground almonds – 40g
Finely grated rind of 1 orange

Orange syrup
Juice of two oranges – 100ml approx
Caster sugar – same weight as the orange juice eg 100g

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (170ºC) fanbake. Oil the sides and bottom of a 25cm springform tin.

Whisk the buttermilk or yoghut and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the Cointreau, beating the mixture well.

Sift the plain flour, baking powder, bread soda and salt on to the wet ingredients, add the ground almonds and whisk until the batter is just combined.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes (25-30 for fan ovens) until the cake is well risen, golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before carefully removing it from the tin. Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, juice the oranges, combine with the caster sugar in a heavy based saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes until the syrup coats the back of a spoon. Using a skewer, prick the top of the cooled cake and pour over the hot syrup.

Serve sprinkled with pomegranate seeds or orange segments and with dollops of natural yoghurt.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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7 Responses

  1. Rosa says:

    A luscious cake! It looks really good!Cheers,Rosa

  2. Daily Spud says:

    Yes, thankfully, spring does seem to be breaking through at last, though, for me, anytime would be a good time for moist, pudding-y cakes like this one 🙂 Lovely…

  3. oooo yum, you can’t beat orange and citrus!!!

  4. Rena Hennessy says:

    Hi Caroline . I have to say that was a most delicious cake . A recipe to be used and reused and no problems with leftovers.

  5. Caroline says:

    It not only looks good, Rosa, it tastes gorgeous too!Daily Spud: Looking out at the grey skies today, I’m not sure if I was too early at welcoming spring. Still, if March comes in like a lion, it’ll have to go out like a lamb and you’re right, this kind of cake is perfect for all types of of weather.Rachel@fairycakeheaven: I see you were doing your own orange-based baking with those yummy Sunshine Citrus Muffins. I think I might have to invest in that Dorie Greenspan book…Glad to hear that you liked it, Mum – I don’t think there were too many leftovers left after we all dived on the cake!

  6. that looks and sounds lovely!! mind if i make it in the cafe? i’m looking forward to some spring baking too!!

  7. Caroline says:

    Make it and welcome – just let me know how you get on!

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