orange lightning cake

A very popular cake I made every few days at Le Petite Pantry was the Orange & Almond Cake. The flourless one most of you will be familar with. Based on 2 or 3 whole boiled oranges, lots of almond meal & often topped with toasty almond flakes. In the beginning I would often use mandarins - the no fuss Bill Granger inspired me to do so in Bill's Food. I still think his Mandarin Almond cake recipe is the best of them.

But I gave up 2 things for good when I gave up my bakery. And they'll never be welcomed back. Coffee grinds on the benchtop - the reason I bought a Nespresso machine so quickly. And boiling oranges for hours on my stovetop. Watching oranges boil, topping up water, waiting for them to cool - arghh!!!! Anyone who has made this cake knows what I'm talking about. Impatient young players too, scorching hands while plucking out the orange seeds before processing.

So nowadays the thought of a very moist orange cake that's as quick as lightning to prepare is the go. Still using whole oranges to ensure that wonderful full flavour. But without the prep.  My mantra - easy recipes that don't require fancy icing. This one fits the bill well. Sprinkle the cake with icing sugar or brush with orange syrup if you fancy. Serve with chantilly cream ie. a good dash of vanilla extract & icing sugar added to the thickened cream while whipping.

This one comes courtesy of favourite Kiwi chef, the Free Range Cook - Annabelle Langbein. Fab books & TV series if you haven't yet seen them. 

Ingredients - 1 orange unpeeled, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 125grams butter softened, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 cups plain flour, 1 cup sultanas or raisins, ½ cups chopped walnuts or almonds (optional)

Method - Preheat oven to 160deg C. Use a 20cm diameter springform cake tin. Grease sides with butter and line base and sides with baking paper. The orange should be cut into quarters, remove the seeds and pulse in your food processor until mushed.

Prep time: 15 minutes tops

Baking soda should be dissolved in ½ a cup of water and added to the oranges, along with the soft butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour.  Whizz up to combine. Then add sultanas or raisins and nuts if using. Fold through with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake until springy to touch in the centre - about 1 hour. Test with a skewer if you like. That's it. Serves 6-8

At the moment I fence sit between this Lighting Orange Cake & Torta Arancia - the orange & olive oil cake that was my gift from a year in Sardegna. They've been cultivating oranges in Sardegna and neighbouring Sicily since around 1000AD. Like many nuances of Southern Italian cuisine, the influence was introduced by the Arabs in the form of bitter orange varieties.  Both cakes are equally divine ways to use up the last few oranges of any orange variety in the bottom of your fruit bowl without any fuss. Enjoy :-)