FOOD! Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake


Several years ago, I worked at a funny little place in Minneapolis, right on the shores of Lake Calhoun.  A “museum of electricity in life,” The Bakken was filled with unique characters of all manner of philosophy and background.  In fact, looking back on it now with the perspective of a novelist, this place was rife with quirky personalities ready-made for fictionalization.Anyhoo, one of my favorite people there was the archivist/ research librarian.  She was a total foodie, but had recently diagnosed with diabetes, and so was largely deprived of her favorite pastime, cooking.  She had a large collection of old cookbooks, and when she found out I was gluten-free, she dug up a ton of recipes for my perusal.  One of these was a recipe for a type of cake originally made by Sephardic Jews.  I suppose this was a first realization that there were wheat-averse traditions out there, and that there were ways of eating GF that aren’t simply about substituting regular flour for GF, but looking at it in a completely different way.

Today is the first time I’m trying this particular recipe, though I’ve made a similar cake multiple times.  The two things about this recipe which are a bit putzy are: 1. the springform cake pan (easy to find, but perhaps not something found in the average kitchen), and 2. pulverizing the almonds (I like to mix the almonds with the sugar in the food processor, that way the almond doesn’t get too sticky in the container).

  • Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake
  • TOTAL TIME: 3 hours (2 hours unattended)
  • COOK TIME: 1 hour
  • PREP TIME: 2 hour


2 large oranges
6 eggs
1/2 pound ground almonds
1/2 pound sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

1.  Wash the oranges and simmer them, unpeeled, in water to cover for 2 hours. Cool, cut them open and remove the seeds. Puree the oranges in a food processor.
2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3.  Beat the eggs in a food processor or large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, including the orange puree, and mix thoroughly. Pour into a buttered and floured cake tin, with a removable base if possible.
4.  Bake for one hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the tin before turning out.

YIELD:10 servings

NOTE: This is a very moist cake and goes especially well with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines.


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