I am a member of my local coeliac group and last weekend, they were having a meeting which included a cookery demo followed by an afternoon tea, with all the cakes and goodies being baked by group members. Anyone fond of baking is encouraged to bring something along. This results in two tables groaning under the weight of all the cakes, biscuits and tarts provided, all of which are of course gluten free. For 50p you get an empty plate which you are allowed to fill with as much food as you like. If there is one thing I am fast learning about other coeliacs it’s that they all love a good afternoon tea. Being presented with an entire tableful of gluten free treats is quite a rare experience for us coeliacs with the result that you end up feeling like a child in a sweet shop, giddy with all the choice – although that could be partly due to the sugar rush from eating too much cake! Everyone piles their plates high with a selection of the cakes with second and third helpings often being the norm.
There is never any ‘packet stuff’ with everything being baked by coeliacs for coeliacs meaning it also tastes delicious. It’s a great way to pick up some new recipes. Knowing the high standard of baking on offer, I was determined to take something equally delicious and stumbled across this recipe by Nigella which seemed to fill the bill perfectly.
It’s a chocolate cake made with ground almonds and flavoured with orange. However, this cake is a little different to your usual orange cake, as it uses the WHOLE ENTIRE ORANGE, pith, skin, pulp and all pureed in the mix.
Of course I had to make a trial version of the cake before taking it to the meeting, for quality taste testing purposes obviously. I didn’t want a whole large cake, so I scaled the recipe down and baked it in a small Bundt mould instead. You’re meant to boil the orange in a saucepan of water for a couple of hours but I’ve since discovered that a 10 minute blast in the microwave in a water bath does the same trick, great for when you’re short of time.
The cake turned out far better than I’d hoped. Using a whole orange may sound a little shocking at first but it produces a very moist, slightly dense cake with a fabulous intense orange flavour, similar to marmalade, and not the least bit bitter. Paired against the rich cocoa flavour it gives it a very indulgent decadent flavour. I loved how the slices were speckled with slivers of the orange peel, giving a hint at what’s inside. It really is unbelievably delicious.
We ate the last slice 3 days later, and it was still just as moist as on the day it was made. It only occurred to me later that it’s not only gluten free, but dairy free too! I’m pleased to say it went very well at the meeting with a few people asking for the recipe – hurrah!
Chocolate, Whole Orange & Almond Cake
(Recipe adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson)
1 medium sized orange – 170-200g weight
3 large eggs
¾ tsp gluten free baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g ground almonds
125g caster sugar
25g cocoa powder
Grease a 6-6½inch spring form tin and line the base with greaseproof paper OR lightly oil a small 6-7inch Bundt pan.
In a small saucepan, place the orange and cover with water. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until the orange is soft and tender.
(I’ve found that placing the orange in a microwavable bowl, covering with water and loosely covering the top with clingfilm before microwaving on high for 10 minutes, produces the same results. Great when short of time)
Remove the orange from the water, cut in half and remove any pips. Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the entire oranges (peel and all), in a food processor and whizz to a pulp. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, to help break down the orange peel.
Then add the baking powder, bicarb, almonds, sugar and cocoa powder. Whiz together until a smooth batter is formed. There will still be bits of few bits of puréed orange in the batter, which is fine.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-45 minutes. It should be slightly risen and springy to the touch. A skewer should come out fairly clean, with just a few sticky crumbs attached.
Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin, before releasing from the tin and serving. Gets a shiny sticky top surface the longer it’s stored. Dust with icing sugar or drizzle with a little glace icing if desired.