Monday, 8 July 2013

Sweet Little Orange and Almond Cakes

When I was a child, eating cake was saved for special occasions. It always signified a celebration or the marking of an important event. At that time, during the 1960's, the baking of cakes was mainly done at home and required a considerable amount of time and effort to produce.

My grandmother Louisa made these sweet little cakes at Easter time and baked them in beautiful individual pottery cups. She was suspicious of all modern gadgetry and preferred to beat the eggs and combine all the ingredients by hand. She scoffed at any modern appliance that "makes you lazy". 

Well here is the lazy version (sorry nonna) of these small and delightful cakes. They have an intense orange flavor and make a wonderful winter treat.

The glace oranges are an added extra. The cakes are just as delicious with the simple brandy glaze.

Glace Oranges Ingredients

2 medium or 4 small oranges
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups cold water

Orange and Almond Cakes Ingredients

130g almond meal
2/3 cup self-raising flour
2 eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
100g soft butter, chopped
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 teaspoons brandy

Method Glace Oranges

(Skip this section if you just want to make the simple glaze at the end)

This is a quick and easy way to make glace oranges. I have taken the recipe directly from Belinda Jeffery's wonderful book called "Desserts".

Pour the sugar and 2 cups of cold water into a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves, then stop stirring, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 5 minutes.

Gently place the orange slices into the pan and adjust the heat so the syrup barley bubbles around the edges. Cook the slices for 1 hour, then very carefully turn them over and continue cooking for another 40 minutes or until they look translucent. Keep a close eye on the pan for the last 20 minutes or so, as the syrup becomes quite thick and can scorch easily.

Place a sheet of baking paper on a wire rack. When the orange slices are ready, remove the pan from the heat and very carefully transfer the slices to the baking paper, making sure they don't overlap or they will stick together. Leave them to cool completely. The syrup will form an almost jelly like glaze on the orange slices.

Once cooled you can cut each slice in half and place on top of your cakes. There will be a few left over so store them in the fridge in an air tight container and use them for any other sweets you are making. They will keep for about 2 weeks.

Method Orange and Almond Cakes

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.

Line 18 (80ml) muffin pans with paper cases

Place the almond meal and the flour into a bowl and stir gently to combine. Now place the eggs, caster sugar, orange juice and rind into another bowl and gently mix until combined. You can of course use a food processor if you have one.

Next add the softened butter and mix until well combined. The mixture will look slightly curdled at this stage. Pour all the ingredients together and mix until just combined. It is important not to over beat the mixture or your cakes will be a little hard.

Using a small spoon divide the mixture evenly between all the patty cases and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of each one.

Bake the cakes for 10 to 12 minutes and then increase the heat to 220 degrees C for a further 2 minutes or until the top of the cakes are a light golden brown and are cooked through. You can test this by using a fine skewer inserted into the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Method Glaze

While the cakes are cooling you can make the glaze

Combine the marmalade and brandy in a small saucepan and cook over low heat just until the mixture becomes spreadable.

Brush each cake with the warm glaze and allow to cool.

Buon Appetito xx