Everybody loves an orange and almond cake.

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 Especially when it’s a birthday cake with candied peel and sweet dried figs, marscapone frosting and raspberry chocolate hearts.

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I was determined to create something to equal this amazing cake.

In the end I used a very simple whole-orange-almond-cake recipe from The Cake Mistress. I didn’t boil my oranges for quite as long as she did, mostly because I didn’t want to be up til midnight! So the oranges only got boiled for an hour, and they didn’t have a lot of cooling time either, once I’d pulverized them with my stick blender.

Orange Almond Cake

  • 2 Navel Oranges, washed
  • 220g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g almond meal
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Place the whole oranges in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Drain and replace the water, then boil again for another 30 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the oranges (navel oranges don’t have pips, but if you use a different fruit you will need to remove any pips at this stage) and then blend or process to a pulp.

While the oranges are boiling, start working on the candied peel and raspberry hearts (see below).

Prepare a 22cm round springform pan: spray lightly with oil and cut baking paper to fit the bottom and sides. Preheat the oven to 160C (150C if fanforced).

Using a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the baking powder. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and use a spatula to carefully fold in the almond meal and orange pulp.

Pout the batter into the pan. Bake for 45-50min or until a skewer comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the sides. Keep an eye on your cake from the 30 minute mark – if it starts to brown too much, place a piece of foil over the top.

Remove the cake from the oven. Leave in the tin, and place on a rack to cool completely before removing from the tin. (At this stage, I drizzled the leftover zest syrup over the cake while it was still hot. You don’t have to do this but I love syrup cakes!)

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Decorations

Using a zester, remove peel from 1 or 2 oranges. If you don’t have a zester, use a regular peeler, but make sure not to remove too much pith with the peel. You want long thin strips of zest. Put 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup caster sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the zest and simmer for about 20min, until the liquid has reduced. Place the zest and syrup in the fridge for a while. When cool, drain the zest, keeping the syrup.

Cover a small tray with foil. Place the sweet, sticky zest on the tray. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, and toss well to coat. If you’ve timed this right, your oven will still be hot; put it on the lowest setting and put the zest in for about 15-20 minutes, tossing once or twice. It should go crispy and crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to air-dry for as long as possible (I left mine overnight, covered with a clean cloth).

Take about 4 dried figs and slice them thinly. If they seem a little dry, soak them in warm water for a couple of hours.

For the raspberry hearts, take a piece of baking paper and draw some hearts on one side, about 3-4cm in diameter. Turn the baking paper over and place onto a clean board. Melt about 150g white chocolate (I do mine in the microwave, short bursts at low power, stirring in between). Add a few drops of raspberry essence. My chocolate went a bit stiff at this point so I added about 1/4 teaspoon of peanut oil. Using a small spoon, dab chocolate onto your baking paper, filling your heart lines.

Awww. Filling your heart lines. I like how that sounds.

Pop the board into the fridge until the chocolate has set, then carefully peel off the hearts and place in an airtight container until ready to use. I did two batches.

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Frosting

A search for ‘mascarpone frosting’ turned up an amazing looking almond praline cake which I pinned to try some other time! I used their frosting recipe, but I only made half the batch which turned out to  be exactly right for my cake. Basically just marscapone, heavy cream, vanilla and sugar (I added a little extra icing sugar as well). I whisked mine by hand and it thickened almost instantly – be very careful not to overbeat or it will start to separate and curdle!

Slather frosting all over your cake. Sprinkle with the candied peel and sliced figs, then decorate to your chocolate heart’s content.

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