The changing of the seasons is such a magical time for me. The move from winter into spring signifies new beginnings and there's a palpable sense of anticipation throughout nature. There was some definite warmth in the sunshine this morning and I'm feeling a renewed energy to get creating in the kitchen and back in my garden. Inspiration for my cooking and baking comes from so many different places. Sometimes it'll be the food that arrives in my weekly fruit and veg box, sometimes from dishes I have tasted when eating out and very often from combining recipes in my vast selection of cookery books!
Working with different flavour combinations is one of the joys of cooking and I try to use seasonal produce wherever possible. After all it is cheaper, more plentiful and full of flavour.
A few weeks back I picked up a recipe in a supermarket for orange and almond cake which looked delicious but was most definitely not vegan or gluten free. I played around with the flavours and ingredients and after some experimenting I have created a beautifuly moist and flavoursome cake. A cake that works so well as both a teatime treat or as a delicious dessert. The cardamon adds a beautiful depth of spice with the sweetness of the orange and gentle almond flavour. A great way to use up any left over citrus fruit, as it also works very well with lemon in place of the orange.
Like so many of us I have a busy family life and three little ones to feed so all my recipes are tested to be both quick and easy and pass the kids taste test. As mentioned, this cake is also both vegan and gluten free but unrecognisably so, delivering in both taste and texture.
**Ingredients (makes a round 20cm cake)**
For the cake
- 175g self raising flour (I used Doves Farm gluten free)
- 100g ground almonds
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 170ml cold water
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 10 cardamon pods, seeds crushed and pods discarded
For the icing/decoration
- 100g icing sugar
- Juice of 1 orange
- Flaked almonds, toasted
1. Preheat oven to 180 ºC.
2. Grease and base line a 20cm round loose bottomed tin.
3. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, orange zest and cardamon.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, water and orange juice.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk to combine. The batter will be fairly runny.
6. Pour into the pre prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned, risen and a skewer comes out clean.
7. Allow to cool completely then remove from the tin.
8. To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add the orange juice. Stir until smooth and a thick pouring consistency. If the icing seems too thin add a little more sugar or add a little cold water if it is too thick.
9. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake and scatter with toasted almonds.
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