People have been writing to me for months begging for this recipe featured in the Sicily episode of my show ‘When Patrick Met Kylie’. Thank you for your patience. I am slowly going to try to put up all the recipes but between writing, filming, video editing, creating new shows, studying and trying to pay the rent, somehow this process has taken longer than I’d hoped.
I created this recipe as a love affair between the Sicilian ingredients of olive oil, almonds and oranges. Add in vanilla and mascarpone and you have a heavenly perfume that will transport you straight to Italy. The Italians have a cake that is similar to bundt cake called ‘ciambella‘ but personally, I often find this a bit dry and a little reminiscent of supermarket-bought cakes. I prefer a texture that is moist and slightly dense. They also have the ‘torta caprese‘, found in the region of the Amalfi Coast, which uses almond meal to create a dense flour-less lemon or chocolate cake. This is like a combination of the two.
I love using olive oil in baking because it lends a subtle depth to the flavour – don’t worry, your dessert won’t taste like a salad, trust me! This is not a rich cake so I thought it deserved a lavish vanilla mascarpone icing or frosting. Icings can actually get some home cooks into trouble because if you overbeat it can suddenly pass from perfect whipped peaks into grainy overwhipped butter. This is particularly stressful when you’re entertaining guests and you’ve gone to so much trouble with the cake but then at the last minute before icing your masterpiece you leave the Kitchenaid mixing it too long and suddenly all your dreams of smooth glossy frosting are dashed. This is where my little trick might help you: a combination of mascarpone, which is delightfully thick, and pouring cream to make it more spreadable and slightly less rich. I also add some icing sugar and vanilla to flavour. You only need to stir the two together with a wooden spoon, there is no strenuous whisking, no dangerous electric overbeating and the taste is superior to any icing I’ve ever made.
There are two ways you can deal with the orange in this recipe. If you don’t have a blender or you want to cut down on time, simply use the juice and the zest of the orange. However, for a really vibrant colour and a flavour that is a lot more potent, I like to boil a whole orange, blend it and then use the whole thing. You can see the difference in the pictures below. I used just the juice and zest for the gluten free version and the whole boiled and blended orange for the flour version, which rose higher. Oh yes, that’s right – I made two separate cakes because a lot of you out there write to me asking for gluten-free recipes. One has only almond meal, the other uses a combination of flour and almond meal. The one with the flour obviously rises a lot higher but both are moist and delicious.
1 large orange
EITHER 1.5 cups almond meal (for gluten free version) OR 1 cup plain flour and 1/2 cup almond meal (if you don’t have almond meal you can put regular almonds in the blender and pulse to a fine powder)
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 pinch sea salt
3 free range eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract or essence
150ml pouring cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or extract
1 tablespoon orange zest to decorate
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Slice orange into quarters and put in a very small saucepan with enough water so the pieces are only just covered. Place on the stove to boil on a medium to high heat.
2. While your orange is bubbling away beat three eggs and gradually whisk in the sugar.
3. In another bowl, combine almond meal (and flour if using), salt, baking powder and bicarb soda. (Be sure to check, with your fingers if necessary, that there are no lumps as a metallic hit of dry baking powder in a slice of cake is awful!)
4. Check your saucepan! Has your water almost all boiled away from the oranges? You want to take it off the heat when the orange has softened and only an inch of water remains. Pour it all into the blender (including any excess water) and blend until smooth. Pour it out into a shallow dish so it cools quickly.
5. While your orange mixture is cooling, prepare your cake tin (mine is a 22cm springform). Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients like citrus fruits, helping to leaven your batter. After the dry ingredients are mixed with the wet and that baking soda hits the orange juice it will create CO2, which will make your cake light and filled with little air pockets. But if you leave it too long before getting your batter in the oven then you’ll lose this effect. So THIS is why it’s important to get your tin ready before you mix the wet and dry. I cooked one cake with paper all the way up and the other with a greaseproof paper on the bottom and butter on the sides. I do like the latter method because it gives the side of your cake a smooth rather than crinkled finish.
6. Stir in the olive oil, vanilla and cooled orange mixture (or just orange juice and zest if you skipped the boiling and blending part) to the egg and sugar mixture.
7. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet until only just combined.
8. Pour into your cake tin and place in the oven immediately. Cook for 15 minutes on 180degrees then check to see whether it needs to be covered with aluminum foil so the top doesn’t burn for the remaining 5 minutes. You will know when it’s ready because when you gently shake it back and forth it shouldn’t wobble. Cool on a wire wrack to give the outer layer a nice crisp rather than soggy finish.
9. Stir together mascarpone, cream, vanilla, icing sugar and even a bit of orange zest if you like. It won’t come together at first and you’ll be cursing me for leading you astray but keep stirring and all of a sudden you’ll have a velvety shiny icing – I promise! Only ice your cake when it is completely cooled. If your guests can’t wait, you could just serve this in a bowl on the side and then it’s their problem if the icing melts all over their cake slice.
I hope you like this recipe. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions. 🙂