Wow. This is my ideal cake. Not too sweet, the perfect texture, infused with citrus flavor, and dusted with powdered sugar. I've never been one for sugary, frosted, over the top cakes with layers and fancy fillings. I'll admit to enjoying a few bites here and there on a special occasion, but I prefer simpler cakes that aren't too sweet and showcase the pure flavors of fruit. Cakes that would be perfect with a cup of tea in the afternoon. And this is exactly that. What's more...as it's name implies, it has no butter, offering instead the comfortably familiar and virtuous flavor of that esteemed oil known as olive.
The recipe calls for simmering the citrus for thirty minutes, and let me just tell you that this simple act alone resulted in great happiness. The house smelled divine - I was already enjoying the cake and it wasn't even on the plate yet. There's something about cooking the orange and lemon that removes the bitterness from the rind, which is later ground into a fine paste and incorporated into the batter. And I haven't yet mentioned that there are toasted almonds to look forward to as well. Please do yourself a favor and toast raw almonds yourself if you usually buy them. At least for the purposes of this cake. They will taste much fresher, make the house smell even better than it already does, and make the whole shebang that much more rewarding.
And now, in case you aren't already convinced, I can say with confidence that it's not just me who liked this cake. I served it to friends at dinner and EVERYONE had a second slice. In fact, I'm pretty sure Dan had a third. If that doesn't give meaning to "the proof is in the pudding", I don't know what does.
1 small to medium orange
6 ounces raw almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
½ tsp. table salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Put the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. (They’ll float - no worries.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, and cool.
While the citrus is simmering, toast the 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 toasty, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. When the almonds are cool, pulse them in a food processor until finely ground, the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.
Set the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9-inch round springform pan.
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 – there’s no need to wash it after grinding the almonds – and process to chop finely, almost to a coarse paste.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
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 beat on low speed to just incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.
Store it at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Recipe from Orangette. (Thank you! I am eternally grateful.)