The Seville Orange and Almond Cake
‘The Orange Grove’ features two of the characters making a very special cake – a Seville Orange and Almond cake. It is made from an old secret family recipe which was handed to Ella when she was attending a family party and flamenco performance in Seville many years before. But for Ella, the cake – and therefore the recipe – has added significance and brings back memories of her time in Seville, which she has tried to push aside.
This special cake is traditionally made at times of celebration. Bitter Seville oranges – not available all year round – give it an evocative bitter-sweet flavour which resonates for Ella with the memories themselves, whilst the ground almonds are deliciously rich and fragrant.
Some readers have asked for the recipe. To start with, I told them that this is a secret family recipe (!) just as it says in the book, but since it is so good, I thought I’d relent and publish it here.
And here’s one a friend of mine made earlier!
The cake is best enjoyed – as you can see – with a glass of fizz.
If you make and enjoy the cake, I do hope that you will let me know – and send a photo if possible. Thank you!
Seville Orange and Almond Cake
- 2 Seville oranges, about 280 g (10 oz) scrubbed & roughly chopped (with skin)
- 5 eggs, separated
- 200 g (7 oz) caster sugar
- 225 g (8 oz) ground almonds
- 2 tbsp flaked almonds
- Zest of half a lemon
- sifted icing sugar to decorate
Method: Prep: 1 hour. Cook: 55 mins.
- Put the chopped oranges in a small saucepan, discarding any pips. Add 1 tbsp water, then cover and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the oranges are soft and excess liquid has evaporated. Leave to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF, gas mark 4). Line the bottom and sides of a 23 cm (9 in) springform cake tin with baking parchment. Finely chop the oranges in a food processor or blender, or with a large knife.
- Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Gradually whisk in half the caster sugar, then whisk for 1 minute.
- Using the same whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar in another bowl for 2–3 minutes or until pale and quite thick. Whisk in the finely chopped oranges, then carefully fold in the lemon zest and the ground almonds.
- Stir in 3 spoonfuls of the whisked egg white to loosen the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites with a large metal spoon. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and level the top. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
- Bake for 50–55 minutes or until the cake is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 20 minutes and again at 30 minutes, and cover lightly with foil if it is browning too quickly.
- Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then turn it out, peel away the lining paper and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with icing sugar before serving. The cake can be kept in an airtight tin for up to 2 days.
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