Monday, March 8, 2010

Citrus Almond Cake

I'd say every day that I'm home I spend a little bit of time checking out my favorite food blogs. Some I read on a daily basis, some I just check out weekly or monthly. Orangette is a blog that I haven't read too much but still enjoy checking for updates once in a while. And a few weeks ago I saw a cake that I just HAD to try out.

Why?? Well...
1. I love citrus in my desserts.
2. There was a secret ingredient.


Citrus + almonds + olive oil = cake? Yes!


But it's not a soft and fluffy and super sweet desserty type cake. It's the kind that goes perfect with a cup of tea or works well as a snack (or breakfast!). The ground almonds definitely give the cake a great texture. And the citrus. Oh my!

First thing you need is to boil an orange and lemon for 30 minutes. Because you'll be using the rind and all I prefer to use home-grown fruits for this (NO chemicals). But if you don't have access to fresh fruit they say organic is the way to go. (Organic isn't necessarily pesticide free, but they say it typically has fewer chemicals. Who knows, but I guess it can't hurt...)

Edit: I've entered this post on a website featuring "grow your own food".  You can check it out or enter yourself at House of Annies.


While it's boiling, grind some almonds in your food processor. Not to a fine powder, but a coarse sand texture. (I think mine may have been even more coarse than that.)

This is also a good time to take your eggs out (to get them to room temp) and prepare the dry ingredients.

After the citrus is done (it'll be nice and soft), carefully cut open and remove the seeds. For the orange you'll be using the ENTIRE fruit, for the lemon you'll be using only the RIND (scoop out the insides and discard. Or eat them like I did).

Throw the fruit in the food processor and pulverize until you've made a citrus paste.

Prepare the cake batter and then fold in the citrus paste, almonds and olive oil.

The recipe called for 60 minutes of baking but my cake was definitely overdone after 55 minutes. Next time, I'm checking starting at 40 minutes or so.

Since I overcooked it, it was overly brown on top. But any other cake overcooked for that long should have been ridiculously dry inside. Miraculously this cake was still pretty moist! I can only imagine how better it would have been if I cooked it for the right amount of time.

Final verdict: awesomely delicious! And I'd have to agree with Orangette- it's the kind of cake that gets better as the days go on.
Note: I was out of town for a few days and stuck the cake in the freezer, then took it out 5 days later.  The cake was even more moist after all that time.  Seriously, this cake gets MUCH better with time... (I think it softens the almonds a bit for a softer and moister cake texture, which I prefer.)

Slightly crunchy from the almonds, a little tart from the citrus and super moist.

Buen Provecho,
Jackie

Citrus almond cake, adapted from Orangette

1 medium orange
1 lemon
6 ounces toasted almonds*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving (optional)

*Note: you can toast your own almonds or buy them pre-toasted. I like the reduced salt kind from Trader Joes, but feel free to toast your own (I'll include the recipe at the end).

First prepare the citrus. Put the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. (They’ll tend to float; that's OK.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground, the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease a 9-inch round cake pan (or springform pan). (Tip: to prevent sticking I like to use wax or parchment paper on the bottom + baking spray (it's like Pam with flour in it.)

When the citrus is cool, cut the lemon in half, and scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Cut the orange in half, and discard the seeds. Put the lemon rind and orange halves in the food processor and process to a coarse paste.

Combine the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Fold in the flour mixture. Add the citrus, almonds, and olive oil, and fold in by hand (to prevent overmixing).

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack.

This cake tastes even better the longer it sits, as the flavors meld and mellow. Store it at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

To toast raw almonds: Preheat the oven to 325°F, and set a rack in the middle position. Put the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan, and bake until they look golden and smell warm and toasty, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Note: I also recently saw a similar cake on the blog Seven Spoons (after I'd already baked this cake). It's almost identical but the Seven Spoons cake uses all almonds and NO flour.  Haven't tried it but it might be interesting to compare (or good for people with gluten allergies).

2 comments:

Mara said...

I absolutely love olive oil in cakes like that... I swear, growing up in Skokie was good for me for stuff like that.

Nate @ House of Annie said...

This is a very interesting cake. I've heard about olive oil cakes before but never seen the entire process. Think I'd like to try it!

Since you're using homegrown citrus, come show off your dish in our "Grow Your Own" roundup this month. To participate, find the details here:

http://chezannies.blogspot.com/2010/03/announcing-grow-your-own-40.html

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