The basic recipe has been all over the web for years. I first read about it on the Chocolate and Zucchini blog. It’s embarrassingly simple. You poach a couple of oranges for two hours and set them aside to cool. Since you have to check on them only intermittently to make sure the water hasn’t reduced too much, you can go about other things. I typically poach the oranges while cooking dinner one night and bake the cake the next, or poach them early in the day and finish the cake later. After they’re cool, the oranges are ground to a pulp in the food processor and added to the rest of the ingredients. The eggs are mixed with a fork and everything else is added to the bowl. This is as quick a cake recipe as I know. The cake emerges wonderfully moist, so it keeps well, or at least it would if it weren’t typically gobbled up on the spot.
For Christmas, I served the orange cake with poached and candied kumquats and vanilla ice cream. I had an epiphany about poaching kumquats in sugar syrup a couple of years ago, after making a few batches that didn’t plump but rather puckered into leathery lozenges. Now I blanch them in boiling water for 30 seconds three times, changing the water each time, before lightly cooking them in simmering simple syrup (1:1 proportion of sugar and water) for 10 minutes.
Poached Orange Almond Cake
3 small oranges or 2 large
1 c sugar
2 1/3 cup almond meal (also known as almond flour)
1 tsp baking powder
Optional: a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Glaze: zest and juice of 1 lemon (or orange), combined with 3 tbsp thick sugar crystals
Clean and scrub the oranges. Put them in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Put the saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 2 hours, adding a little hot water if the water gets too low. Drain and cool. (The oranges can be prepared a day ahead.) Cut into quarters and puree in the food processor.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch spring-form pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Whisk in the pureed oranges, sugar, almond meal, baking powder and optional fresh ginger until well blended. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about an hour until puffy and golden (less if using a 9-inch pan).
Let cool on a rack for a few minutes while you prepare the glaze. Remove the cake from the pan and spoon the glaze over it. Let it cool completely before serving. (This will take a good hour or so.) The cake can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature.