Unlike the traditional Moroccan meskouta (orange and almond cake), made with flour and oil and served soaked in orange juice and cinnamon syrup, this particular cake does not contain any flour, oils or butter, so if you are gluten intolerant or counting your kilojoules, then this is for you!
I like to serve this cake with blood orange segments, some candied lemon slices and a sprinkle of chopped almonds. These flavours work so beautifully together and it’s a visual treat too, with the colours popping off the plate.
note : This recipe makes two cakes, so feel free to halve the recipe if you prefer.
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) almond meal
15 g (1/2 oz) baking powder
430 g (151/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 blood oranges, segmented
50 g (13/4 oz) raw almonds, roasted and coarsely chopped
candied lemon slices (page 69)
edible small flowers, such as violas
Put the oranges in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the oranges begin to crack open. Drain the oranges and set aside until cool, then break them open and remove the seeds. Place the unpeeled fruit in a food processor and purée until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Lightly grease and flour two 8 x 25 cm (31/4 x 10 in) loaf (bar) tins.
Put the almond meal and baking powder in a large bowl, combine well and set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the sugar and eggs on high speed for 10 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the orange purée and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined, then pour the mixture onto the almond meal mixture and gently fold in until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tins until three-quarters full. The overall volume of mixture will vary slightly depending on how enthusiastically you mixed the batter, so only fill the tins three-quarters full and bake any left-over batter in a greased coffee cup or ramekin. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before refrigerating in the tins for at least 1 hour.
To unmould, place the cakes in a 200°C (400°F) oven for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate. Decorate the cakes with the blood orange segments, chopped almonds, some slices of candied lemon and edible flowers. If you like, make a glaze (see tips) to brush over the cake before adding the flowers. This cake will remain soft for 7 days if wrapped and stored in the fridge.
Recipe and image from The French Baker by Jean Michel Raynaud (Murdoch Books) $59.99.