torta arancia


❤ Zia Nadia's Torta Arancia (Sardinian Orange Cake)


8 tablespoons of caster sugar

3 large eggs

7 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

400 grams of self raising flour

3 oranges (freshly picked if you can, finely grated zest and juice) 

Methods + Top Tips

Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F) & grease your cake tin.

I love making this one in a Baba/Kugelhopf tin, you know the big one with the hole in the centre that looks like a crown. Have a squiz at Kerrin Rousset’s beautiful blog My Kugelhopf.  This torte is lovely in mini kugelhopf tins too. I have three red Tupperware ones just for this purpose. 

Beat eggs, sugar and olive oil until well combined. Sift over flour and add zest and juice. Beat until just combined. Bake for 1 hour until golden.  Simple

I don't ice it, just dust it lightly with icing sugar when cool. If you prefer icing, I sometimes use the following to drizzle over. Orange Icing: Remove the rind from one orange in strips with a zester. Squeeze juice from this orange - about 2 1/2 tablespoons. Sift the icing sugar mixture 1 1/2 cups (240grams) into a small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough juice to form a firm paste. Place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and stir until icing is a thin consistency, add orange rind. Drizzle over cooled cake.

The flavour gets really moreish in a couple of days when the orange rind, juice and oil has had time to really soak through.

Travel Tale

I adore citrus. You must know this about me. I often have to physically restrain myself from using citrus zest in almost everything I bake.

I think my citrus obsession began in the Amalfi Coast. A lovely place to find obsessions.  I once had a little book called the 'Ancient Pathways of the Amalfi Coast'.  It was filled with self guided walks and meanderings along the terraces of hillside villages. Each village with their own awe inspiring view of the Meditteranean, Gulf of Salerno and famous Amalfi coastline. The sweet memory of those pathways, amazing scenary and overpowering scent of heavily laden lemon trees lingers.  If you know the area, then you know exactly what I mean.

When I lived in Italy I'd often catch the ferry from the mainland across to the island of Sardegna.  It used to be an overnight slow ferry crossing before the smart fast cat services arrived on the scene. Zia Nadia’s freshly baked orange cake was lovingly presented to me, still warm from the oven at the port of Cagliari, Sardegna's largest town.  I'd eat it for dinner! It was far far better than anything on offer aboard the ferry. It left from Civitavecchia on the mainland, where the ill-fated Costa Concordia left from last week. Such a tragedy.

Cagliari's port is abuzz. I have many Sardinian stories and recipes to share with you another day. Zia Nadia was responsible for incredible 10 course Sunday lunches from a matchbox sized apartment kitchen in downtown Cagliari. She kindly shared recipes and her family with me.  All great cooks and not a Kitchenaid or fancy multi-function oven amongst them. 

Have you ever baked cakes without butter? Before living in Italy I had never considered using olive oil as a substitute for butter. I live for butter. But what a triumph. So simple, light and moist beyond belief.  

Just finished fertilizing my citrus trees this morning, big job but very satisfying; lime & kaffir lime, cumquat, ruby red grapefruit, valencia, lemonade, and a passionfruit... Ooooh, I can’t wait for this next crop. It’s at the ‘teasing stage’. We’ve had so much rain lately. This harvest will be plentiful.