We had some friends over for dinner the other night. Because it was midweek I was keeping it simple: a savoury cake for starters that I could make the day before; a shoulder of lamb I could pop in the oven to slow roast while I was working; a warm roast potato and green bean salad that didn’t matter if it wasn’t perfectly crispy or perfectly hot; Vichy-style carrots.
When I announced that I was going to bake the orange and almond cake for dessert, my hubby said, ‘don’t you mean the orange and cardamon?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘the orange and almond.’
‘I’m sure you said orange and cardamon,’ he said. I figured that meant he wanted the orange and cardamom.
This is my husband’s favourite cake. And no wonder really – it’s intensely orange, and delightfully soft. The cardamom adds a touch of the exotic and the Cointreau and cinnamon in the syrup elevate it into something worthy of dinner with friends.
The recipe comes from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s wonderful book, Moorish- Flavours from Mecca to Marrakech. It’s super easy, super tasty, and tastes a lot more special than it looks.
What you need:
- 130g soft unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar
- grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, free range from happy clucking chooks, of course
- 225g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely ground and sieved. You can use pre-ground in need I guess…
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 200ml sour cream
For the syrup:
- Juice of 1 orange
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 3 tablespoons Cointreau
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 6 cardamon pods, cracked
- 1 cinnamon stick
What you do with it:
- Pre-heat the oven to 170C
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add the vanilla and zest and mix in
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time
- Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom together
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour alternately with the sour cream
- Slap it into a tin (23cm springform cake tin) that you’ve had the forethought to grease and line in the usual way.
- Bake for 50-60 mins- until a skewer comes out clean
- Use the cake cooking time to prepare the syrup, ie bung the ingredients together into a saucepan and simmer gently for a few minutes. Strain.
- When the cake is done, pierce it all over with the skewer and pour over the syrup evenly.
- Leave it to cool completely in the tin.
- Dust with icing sugar and serve with dollops of double cream.