I recently tricked a bunch of women in my town into thinking that I am pleasant and witty enough to join their book club. I was informed that the book they were going to discuss this month would be The Kite Runner. The Kite Runner, by the way, is a beautifully written book that I did not enjoy reading at all. I read The Kite Runner when it was first published years ago, and I could see what the fuss was about, but I’ve never been able to forget some of the most appalling imagery I have every read, and therefore I can never bring myself to recommend the book to anyone. I tend to like books with a little more vampire and a lot less child slavery. I’m weird that way.
Any way, I didn’t re-read The Kite Runner (shh don’t tell) before our meeting, but I did think it might be fun to bring a dessert to my first meeting that was along the theme of the book – the theme being Middle East, and not the despair of being displaced from your homeland. Not knowing much about Middle Eastern desserts, I started typing in random phrases into Google and hit pay dirt with this simple Middle Eastern Orange Cake recipe. The recipe I found is from Claudia Roden and calls for weighing the ingredients, but since I (still) don’t own a scale, I’ve adjusted the recipe to suit. Considering that the entire cake disappeared in a flash at our meeting, I’d say this is a hit.
An added bonus to this orange cake (at least for me with my sensitive to everything husband) is that this cake is both gluten and dairy free, and could easily be adapted to lemons instead of oranges if you wish.
Middle Eastern Orange Cake
- 2 large oranges (you will use the rind so buying organic oranges is a good idea, if possible)
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Icing sugar to dust
- Wash oranges. Put whole, unpeeled oranges into a pot and add water until half-way up orange. Cover and boil for 2 hours. (Make sure you keep watch as you may need to top up the water partway through. You don’t want a dry pot.) Remove from water and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray springform pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper (do not forget the parchment or the cake will stick to the sides of the pan).
- Chop open oranges and remove the seeds. (Note: much of the seed will be gone after boiling, I just cut along the centre of the fruit and use my thumb to brush out the few bits that remain.)
- Put chopped oranges, eggs, ground almond, sugar, and baking powder into a food processor and blend. Pour batter into pan. Bake for 50-60min until the cake doesn’t feel too moist (bake longer if it does). Let cake cool and dust with icing sugar just before serving.