It would appear I’m starting off my 2014 blogging year with a hiss and a roar. This enthusiasm and frequency is highly unlikely to continue once the busy year as I know it kicks in good and proper. It must be because I’ve had a bit more time on my hands than usual through the summer break and a few new recipes have snuck in the back door.
It’s not everyday I embark on a kitchen experiment and get it right. Especially when it comes to cake baking which can so often go from risen to deflated in seconds, taking my fragile ego along with it. Happily on this occasion I can say I’m just a teeny tiny little bit stoked with how this cake recipe turned out.
I got the inspiration for this cake from a notebook I’ve had stockpiled since my traveling days, as lost to memory now as my youth. It’s full of handwritten notes and divine-sounding recipes I found along my route which oddly enough have taken 10 or more years to try out. I actually attempted the rather convoluted original recipe a few weeks ago with mixed results. The flavours were great but I wasn’t overly excited by the texture, being a bit too on the spongy side for my liking. There was too much sugar, too many eggs and one step too many to keep me coming back for more. I prefer moist, moreish cakes and I usually find this comes from gluten-free varieties. More specifically, cakes which are gluten-free due to almond meal taking the place of flour.
So, motivated by a good flavour-profile, I threw all my eggs in one basket and experimented blindly and somewhat stupidly considering I had friends arriving for cake late morning. Luckily, they are still my friends and I’m going to give most of the credit to this cake (gotta save just a few props for my sparkling wit). As it turned out this baked beauty just might have pipped my all-time-favourite cake at the post.
It’s a very easy cake to make which is always a bonus. You won’t lose any sleep over fears of deflating pockets of air nor will you have to fold ingredients together whilst holding your breath.
So here it is, in all its deliciously nutty, minty, almondy goodness. It will keep well for 3-4 days due to it being divinely moist. Serve slightly warm with whipped cream on the side. Oh. My. God.
160g butter – at room temperature
200g caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
200g ground almonds
100g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp baking powder
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
FOR THE SYRUP
Juice of 1 orange
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp well-flavoued honey (I used Rewarewa)
20g mint leaves – roughly chopped
60g slivered almonds – lightly toasted until golden
METHOD – CAKE
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the almonds, coconut, baking powder and finely grated orange rind. Mix with your fingers to infuse the dry ingredients with the orange rind.
5. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and stir to combine well (try not to over-mix).
6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin, smooth the surface with the back of a spoon and bake for 55 minutes. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin while you make the syrup.
METHOD – SYRUP
1. Put the orange juice, water, caster sugar, honey and chopped mint into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce to a low setting and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Stir the toasted almonds into the syrup and spoon carefully over the surface of the warm cake. It’s a good idea to put the cake tin on top of a board or oven tray in case some of the syrup leaks out.