Sunday, 21 November 2010

Almond Citrus Cake

Soaked in sugar syrup flavoured with cinnamon, oranges and lemons, this cake is unbelievably luscious, glossy and moist. I first ate cake like this on holiday around the Middle East, where tooth-meltingly sweet desserts rule and almonds grow wild. It makes your whole house smell of summer sweetness and christmas spice all at the same time.

Over the past few years, I have tried out various almond cake recipes (and burnt off the bottom of my two favourite le creuset pots by boiling whole oranges dry for one in particular.) I have begged details from Dubai cafe-owners, old English ladies and gleaned hints from all sorts of cookbooks. This recipe has been kicking around my friend's kitchen since the 80's where it first appeared in the London Evening Standard, I've rejigged it a little to make it completely gluten-free.

Don't miss out the sugar syrup, it is the whole point of this cake but do serve it in little squares as the sweetness may overwhelm those with more delicate sensibilities.

Almond Citrus Cake
50g gluten-free breadcrumbs
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp gluten-free baking powder 
200ml vegetable oil
4 eggs
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon
85g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 tsp orange flower water (optional)

Grease and line a square (22cm) cake tin with greaseproof paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, sugar, almonds and baking powder.
In a seperate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and zest together.
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly.
Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 30 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a skewer dipped in comes out clean.

While the cake is cooling, heat all the syrup ingredients in a small heavy based saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time to ensure the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency. Pierce holes all over the cake and pour the syrup evenly over the top of the still warm sponge.

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