April 11, 2012

Chocolate Almond Orange Cake

I am pretty sure I have blogged about the wonders of Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Almond Orange Cake before, but I can't quite recall. And I promised AH the recipe after her daughters devoured it (two are gluten intolerant, and this is therefore a perfect cake for them). It really is magical, and, since I still have not bought myself a new food processor, I made the cake the old fashioned way: chopping the oranges by hand.  I was afraid of how it would turn out, but I actually like it much better. (I do not, however, have a picture.  I seem to have captured every other aspect of the day, but not that cake! Above, is the aftermath.)

This cake is ridiculously easy, though it does take a little advanced preparation. And it serves a lot of people, because it is very rich.  It is also very sweet--I keep reducing the sugar to see how it will turn out. (One cup keeps the balance between dry and wet ingredients, while still cutting down the sugar somewhat.) Also, the cake keeps for a ridiculously long time, so sometimes I make it just for myself. It makes a lovely tea-time snack.

adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast

2 organic oranges
6 eggs
1 heaping tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of baking soda
2 cups ground almonds
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Wash the oranges, and place them in a stockpot with cold water (some oranges, even organic ones, are covered in wax.  Be sure to get this fully off).  Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook for 2 hours or until soft.  Scoop the oranges into a bowl and place in the fridge to cool.  (I recommend doing this step the night before.

When you are ready to bake your cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line a 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan (or, if you don't have parchment paper butter thoroughly and then coat in cocoa powder).

In a small bowl whisk the sugar and eggs together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (baking powder and soda, ground almonds, and cocoa powder) together. Chop the whole oranges finely (including the rind), dropping them into the dry ingredients. (Don't worry too much about lost juice. Like I said, this is a very moist cake. If you can capture some of it and put it in the bowl, great, if not, it will turn out fine anyway.)

Add the eggs to the orange/chocolate/almond mixture, and stir up really good with a spatula.  Then pour into the prepared pan.  Bake in the oven for at least one hour (though I start checking it at 45 minutes).

Let cool in the pan on a rack, and, when cool remove the sides of the pan. I like to decorate with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or some orange zest cut into long thin strips, but really, it is elegant by itself, too. You can serve with whipped cream, if you like.  Ice cream goes well too, but really ups the sugar ante. I also serve with dark coffee.

(For the "lazy" version, take the cooked oranges and chop them up in a food processor.  Then pour in all the other ingredients and chop till fully incorporated, pour into the cake pan and bake as directed.)

I have had a few questions about the oranges, so let me clarify: the oranges should be whole, rind and all. The point of boiling then is too remove all bitterness from the pith. The whole orange is then used for the cake. The rind gives texture, flavor, and oil that the cake otherwise would not have.


  1. This sounds great. "Chop the oranges finely" - does this include the rind?

  2. I like this picture a lot. I just now figured out that you must've used a filter to make it look that cool! Also, I love the after the meal shots. Everything looks very lived in.

  3. Duly bookmarked. I discovered the glories of chocolate/almond/orange in the form of biscotti...

    I can't remember—do you like biscotti?

  4. yes! i love biscotti, especially homemade, though I've never made it...I should try to!

  5. Can you use almond meal instead of the ground almonds?

  6. yes--they are the same thing. But you can't use almond flour--it is too fine.

  7. Thanks, it turned out really well!