The idea of a cake made with citrus and almond meal or almond flour, is actually very Italian as the recipe for Torta Caprese doesn’t use any flour and is known for that delicious moist texture. Italians make Torta Caprese with chocolate or lemons but for this recipe, I would recommend sticking to oranges or blood oranges. You will need the sweetness of orange that you won’t find in the lovely but more bitter lemon.
So why the delay with this recipe, Kylie? I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I love baking with almond meal but unfortunately it’s much more expensive than flour so I wanted to make this recipe twice before sharing it with you to be sure the measurements were perfect, otherwise I would feel guilty if your cake didn’t turn out as it should. I have been cooking this recipe for years but I generally cook by eye so I made this once for the video below and again today just to double test my measurements. The key is to cook this a long time – about an hour – but be sure to make the little hat for your cake so it doesn’t burn on the top. It’s sounding quite complicated now, isn’t it? But I promise this is actually a very easy cake and the use of the entire fruit of the orange gives it a ‘profumo’ that is thoroughly intoxicating. You will be crouching by your oven just grinning as you inhale the scent! And of course, the deep flavour of orange is deliciously intense when you bite into the cake, too.
2 small oranges (about 100grams each)
400ml water (1 and 3/4 cups)
200 grams brown sugar (normal sugar will do if you don’t have brown, I just like the caramel notes it gives the cake)
4 small eggs (at room temperature if possible)
1/2 cup 100 grams olive oil (or vegetable oil, if you don’t have olive oil)
100 grams plain natural yoghurt
350 grams almond meal (if you’re not celiac, you could do half normal flour and half almond meal as I know it is expensive! But the almonds give the cake that lovely moist texture)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 356 Fahrenheit and grease a cake pan with butter and line the base with baking paper. I have used a pan that is about 26cm across and 4.5cm high. This cake doesn’t rise as much as cakes with flour but be aware that because it is quite moist, you may prefer, as I do, to bake in a bigger pan so that it cooks more thoroughly and doesn’t become too soggy in the centre.
- Let’s start with our oranges. Wash them and cut into pieces (taking out any seeds). My two oranges weighed 200 grams together. Put them in a shallow pot with just enough water to cover them – about 400ml, as written above. Heat them on a medium heat to soften and reduce for about 10-15 minutes.
- Now for the batter, take a big mixing bowl and beat your sugar in with the eggs.
- Add the other wet ingredients – vanilla essence or extract (whichever you can afford), olive oil and yoghurt.
- Your oranges should be just about ready when almost all the water has evaporated. Pour everything into a blender and blend until smooth. (If you’re in a rush and your water from the pot hasn’t almost all evaporated, just remember to put the bare minimum amount of water required to blend the fruit and keep the rest out.) If you want to check you’ve got the right amount because oranges vary in size, my orange pulp mixture after blending weighed 200 grams. Put this in the freezer to cool down so it doesn’t cook your egg batter.
- In another bowl, mix almond meal, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Make sure the baking soda is really well mixed so there aren’t any little clumps as they can ruin a bite of cake with that metallic flavour.
- When cooled down a little, stir the orange mixture into your wet ingredients.
- Now gently fold in the dry ingredients with the almond meal etc.
- Pour into a pan and get it straight into the oven because the baking soda will be reacting to the yoghurt and oranges the moment they combine, so it’s important to get that little chemical love affair into the heat quickly to harness it.
- After about 18 minutes, I make a little aluminium foil hat for my cake so the top doesn’t brown any darker than golden. Then I leave it to cook for another 40 minutes, so about an hour in total.
- Remember that a cake is most fragile when hot so don’t take it out of the pan or attempt to slice it until it has cooled a little. I like to serve this cake with a cup of herbal tea and a dollop of whipped cream… or a spoonful of Greek yoghurt. 🙂