• Torta di Arance e Mandorle con Olio •
Sweet oranges and fruity olive oil lend a fragrant aroma and moist crumb to this Italian-inspired Orange Almond Olive Oil Cake.
I’m back from Italy (for my impressions and recommendations, see my previous post about my trip to Florence!) and my first order of business was to go directly to my kitchen to bake this cake. I got the idea for it while strolling around the Mercato Centrale, the large farmer’s market in the city center with produce vendors on the ground floor and restaurants upstairs. Since it was wintertime, there was an abundance of citrus, most notably oranges and mandarins. The bountiful displays of newly picked fruits, complete with glossy leaves, lured and inspired me to experiment and create. As a result, this recipe uses oranges in three ways: the juice, the zest, and the candied orange peel.
I also sampled some heavenly local Tuscan olive oils and successfully brought back a few well-wrapped bottles in my small suitcase. I really love using olive oil in baking and sweet applications. I’ve used it with excellent results in everything from chocolate cakes to ice creams to ganaches. Go ahead and use the same good quality, extra virgin olive oil you already cook with for this recipe.
I think this cake demands a cup of tea. The texture is drier than a sponge cake but features a moist yet crumbly crumb, thanks to the almond flour. The syrup adds a slight acidity, a touch of sweetness, and more orange flavor. For this reason, this cake is well complemented by a hot cup of tea. I’d pair it with a steamed Japanese-style green tea, rooibos, or, to stick with an Italian theme, steeped chamomile flowers.
- 1 cup nondairy milk
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup ground almond flour (finely ground almonds)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ cup of whole blanched, slivered, or sliced almonds
- 1 Tablespoon diced candied orange peel (totally optional, but great if you have it)
- ¾ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together the nondairy milk, orange juice, sugar, olive oil, orange zest, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
- Combine the flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until well combined.
- Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9-inch cake pan and scatter the almond pieces and candied orange peel on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the cake has become golden brown in color.
- While the cake is baking, make the syrup by combining the orange juice, water, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and simmer until you are left with about ¾ cup of syrup. This will take about 5-7 minutes of simmering. Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest.
- When the cake is done, remove from the oven and, while it's still hot, slowly pour the syrup onto the it, trying to cover the entire surface of the cake. Allow to cool, then serve.
-For a more vibrant flavor, try to use fresh-squeezed orange, mandarin, or tangerine juice rather than bottled.
-For an interesting and nuttier flavor modification, you could lightly toast the almond meal before incorporating into the batter.