19 January 2012

Oranges, almonds (and a whole heap of eggs!)

That James Martin's a clever old stick when it comes to anything sweet, don't you think?

Of course, he's quite probably a clever old stick when it comes to anything savoury, too - but the desserts and cakes are what I know him for.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of his book "Desserts" from my brother's family for Christmas and I'm fairly sure I put on at least four pounds, just looking at the photographs.

However, I spotted this recipe for his Orange & Almond Cake in a magazine (I forget which, now!) and cut it out to keep.  Hence, when I found I had a number of oranges backing up in the fridge it occurred to me that here was a great way of using them.

Just out of the oven
It wasn't until I was getting the ingredients out of the cupboards, that I realised that this is a flourless cake - and it takes six eggs!  A quick count-up of the egg supplies showed that I did indeed have enough to cope, and so the plan continued.

I hadn't ever made a flourless cake before, so was suddenly a tad nervous - as this cake was intended to form part of a High Tea to be consumed that night.  High risk cakes tend not to be a good strategy - not when you're relying on them to feed the five thousand.

The preparation of the cake batter was simplicity itself, involving a saucepan and a food processor - and that was it.  The saucepan is required to poach the oranges (whole) until they are soft and the inherent bitterness of their skin has reduced.  Then, once cooled, they go into a food processor (chop them up a bit first, to remove the pips) and get blitzed until completely "mullered".  (What IS the origin of the term "mullered", I wonder?).

Love flaked almonds!
Next, add ground almonds, sugar and six eggs and blitz again - then hey presto, your cake batter has miraculously appeared.  Decant into a springform tin, sprinkle with flaked almonds and into the oven for 25mins, then another 25mins with a silver foil hat on to prevent the almonds burning.

There really couldn't be an easier way of making a cake.  Well, not unless someone has invented a cooker that you just throw all the naked ingredients into.

The resultant cake was light, frothy almost.  The orange was tempered by the cooking it had received and although full-bodied in flavour, was only slightly bitter.  That bitterness was enough to scare son & heir away, regrettably, but hubby and I both thought that the cake was gorgeous.

The original recipe included instructions for making a Basil cream, which although it sounded extremely likely as a lovely accompaniment, I didn't indulge in.  Well, it was just more cream - which none of our waistlines could do with.  If, however, you're interested in this, you can see the whole recipe here.

As a cake for someone who is attempting to reduce the occurrence of inflammation in their body, you really couldn't ask for better.  After all, oranges are mildly anti-inflammatory and almonds are moderately anti-inflammatory.  I suppose you do have to balance them against the inflammatory properties of the sugar and eggs - but I doubt you'd do better with many recipes!

Interestingly, with Mr Martin's emphasis being on desserts, we both thought that the cake was rather more a dessert and rather less a cake - but even so, I'd be happy to eat it at any time of the day!


Ingredients :
2 oranges
225g caster sugar 
6 free-range eggs 
250g ground almonds 
4 tbsp flaked almonds.

Method : 
1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.  Line and butter a 23cm/9in springform cake tin.
2.  Simmer the orange in a saucepan of simmering water for 45-60 minutes, or until very soft.  Remove the pan from the heat and leave the oranges to cool in the water.
3.  Drain the oranges and roughly chop, discarding the pips.
4.  Blend 450g/1lb of chopped orange in a food processor to a purée.  Add the sugar, eggs and ground almonds and blend until smooth.  
5.  Pour the mixture into the cake tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.
6.  Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then cover loosely with aluminium foil and bake for a further 25-35 minutes, or until cooked through (a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean).
7.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.


  1. Mmmmm, this sounds fabulous! Definitely one to bookmark - thanks for sharing.


  2. This desert looks amazing!
    I just found your blog and loved it! Am a happy follower now! Visit me at:

  3. Make sure to have a browse through the recipe index too, Elpiniki. :) I'll definitely come over and have a browse around your blog, as we all love Greek food.

  4. Oh your making me drool over this. I so have to make it. Thanks for the link to the recipe but I think I am goign to make it as you have - simple dimples. something welcoming about oranges this time of year - yeah it must be that it injects colour into these wintry days

  5. I think you're right, Shaheen. I always think, when I've eaten an orange, that I can feel it doing me good as it goes down. After all, so much sunshine made it - it just HAS to be doing you good!

  6. WONDERFUL recipe and YES James is a great pudding cook/chef! Looks wonderful and JUST my kind of tart....

    PS: I am asking all my lovely friends who have me and my blog listed on their sidebars or in their dashboards, that they need to change the url to http://lavenderandlovage.com now so you get all my latest posts and are up to date! I have just changed to Wordpress! Thanks! XXXX

  7. Okeydokeys Karen! I think - I hope - that mine is now changed. :) Did it hurt terribly, the changeover? LOL

  8. I do find James Martin a bit irritating these days. I used to be a huge fan, but now he's a bit over-exposed maybe. But you can't beat his dessert recipes. Irritating or not, I've still got a good half dozen of his books in the cupboard and they're the ones I use most often. I do generally cut the sugar content down by a third, and change any cream content over to soya cream, but the recipes seem to work just as well.


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