52. Armenian Orange and Almond Cake (incidentally also Gluten Free)

Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

This Armenian Orange and Almond cake almost screams health (in a rather pretty way). It contains 2 whole oranges! (yes that’s right the pith and peel and everything), no butter, a relatively small amount of sugar and a whole bunch of almonds. Of course almonds are full of minerals and vitamins (vitamin E and Bs) and healthy fats that you need to live a lovely life, so surely this is a cake that you should be eating as part of you balanced healthy lifestyle! Oh and I did I mention it’s also gluten free? No flour required so even better for those with gluten intolerances/allergies too.

A very moist slice of Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

A very moist slice of Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

We’re flying into the final 28 bakes of my aroundtheworldin80bakes adventure now and what a cake to take us up to bake 52. This recipe was very kindly given to me by a fantastic lady that I work with who is from Armenia. I asked if she had any traditional cake recipes that I could try as it’s another country that I’m still yet to visit and she produced this from her repertoire.

I Heart Cake. Do you?

I Heart Cake. Do you? You could win a lovely cake mould if so!

I lovingly recreated the handwritten recipe in my kitchen using a pretty heart shaped mould that Mustard Gifts sent me to try. Thank you very much! I love my heart shaped cake mould. Next on my list of things to try is a heart shaped jelly. Not only does it look pretty whole (part of me wanted to decorate it like a flower!) but when you cut yourself a nice wedge it comes out as a perfect heart shape. The cake will make 6 heart shaped slices or 12 finger shaped sliced (depends on how much you love your friends and family as to how big a slice you’d like to give them…) You could also win one of these gorgeous cake moulds worth £15! (Competition has now closed.)

My orangey bakey heart

My orangey bakey heart

I knew I had to bake this cake to take along with me to the Clandestine Cake Club gathering this week, at the Knit Studio at Blackfriars. Our theme this week was history. I thought the Armenian Orange Cake would be a great recipe for me to use, full of Armenian tradition and handed down to my friend through her family. It did not disappoint. I managed to work my through the entire cake collection sampling a wonderful array of cakes along the way. I love Cake Club!

Clandestine Cake Club Newcastle - History theme

A fine selection of cakes at our History themed Clandestine Cake Club Newcastle, at the Knit Studio, Blackfriars

One of my favourite things about this cake is that it’s really quick to make. Boiling the whole oranges is the most time consuming part of this entire cake. They need to be boiled for 2 hours, covered in water and with a  lid on the pan to help retain the heat. I boiled my oranges the day before so I was extra prepared.

Boil 2 whole oranges for 2 hours. Simple

Boil 2 whole oranges for 2 hours. Simple

Once the oranges have reached boiling point allow them to simmer on a low heat for the full 2 hours. The oranges smell amazing, and it floats around the house carried by the steam from the pan. Leave them to cool (so you don’t burn yourself) and then blend them up to a pulp.

Soft boiled oranges

Soft boiled oranges

They’re so soft and tender they pretty much fall apart in your hands. I used a stick blender to blitz mine into a thick smooth orange paste. You could also use a food processor.

Blitz the boiled oranges to a smooth paste

Blitz the boiled oranges to a smooth paste

Next thing is to basically whisk all of the eggs together with the sugar until frothy and a little air is incorporated. Then whisk in the ground almonds and baking powder. Then whisk in the orange paste. No fuss, just whisk the entire thing in one bowl. Even better there’s not a lot of washing up involved in this cake!

Whisking up all the eggs

Whisking up all the eggs and sugar

The cake batter doesn’t take long to whisk together. Whisk it until it is a beautifully smooth, thick and glossy. You will see the gorgeous orange flecks throughout the batter. It’s very easy to pour and spread into the shapely mould.

A thick, glossy smooth orange flecked batter. Easy to pour and spread into the shapely mould

A thick, glossy smooth orange flecked batter. Easy to pour and spread into the shapely mould

Once everything is fully incorporated simply pour it into your greased baking tin/mould and bake in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes at 200 degrees C /400F

Thoroughly greased I Heart Cake Mould

Thoroughly greased I Heart Cake Mould

I like to use spray on cake release to grease my cake tins and having not had much success with silicon bakeware in the past I may have gone a tad overboard with the old grease spray here. The I Heart Cake mould worked like a dream, the cake baked evenly and not a single bit of the cake stuck to the mould. Success!

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven on a pre heated baking tray

One way to ensure your silicon mould is supported and heated evenly I’ve found, is to pop it directly on to a baking tray that has been heated as the oven warms. This makes it even easier to lift the supple mould in and out of the oven and ensures the heat touches the mould evenly.

Fresh from the oven - Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Fresh from the oven – Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Now I did think when I read the recipe that 200 degrees C is rather a high temperature for a cake, normally a sponge with baking powder might bake at 180 C as a maximum. 200 C is more like a bread baking temperature which can take that kind of heat, however I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter. I was slightly alarmed to see how dark the cake had turned in the oven however it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference, it tasted perfect and was moist all the way through. Not a dry edge in sight, but just for peace of mind I might reduce the heat next time to 180 after the first 15 minutes of baking.

Cooling gently on a greaseproof covered cooling rack

Cooling gently on a greaseproof covered cooling rack

I left the cake to cool slightly in the mould to retain it’s shape and merely tipped it out onto a greaseproof covered wire cooling rack (to stop the cake marking or falling through the gaps). It’s quite a robust cake with all of the almonds in so it can take a bit of handling. The cake slid smoothly out of the mould and looked impressive before I even added a layer of icing to it.

A good layer of Orange blossom icing

A good layer of Orange Blossom Water sugar icing

I’ve never really been successful with making my own glaze icing and yet I continue to persevere. I decided to add a layer of icing to the cake to add a little more sweetness. I clearly got the measurements wrong (yet again when will I learn!) as the icing wouldn’t set despite being left over night!) so I ended up scraping it off and leaving the cake with the syrupy goodness from the icing seeping into every pore instead. This made one extremely moist cake. Similar to some of my other Arabic creations Baklava and Basboosa.

One orange blossom water syrup soaked Armenian Orange Cake

One orange blossom water syrup soaked Armenian Orange Cake

Icing sugar is probably not the best choice of decorative tool when dealing with a syrup soaked cake, however I wanted a quick white decoration to contrast with the golden sponge. Armed with a paper doily, icing sugar and my trusty tea strainer I placed the doily on the cake and dusted it liberally to ensure the cake got a good coating. I think its a brilliant (and cheap!) way to create an impressive decoration. I think I may be a little obsessed with this now as you can see with my Crack Pie stencilling

Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Doily decorations all round – Armenian Orange and Almond Cake (ps. no one will notice the dent I put in the top of the cake when scrapping off the icing with a spoon will they…)

To continue the heart theme I sliced up some homemade candied orange peel into dinky heart shapes and placed one in the centre. As Mary Berry always says it’s good to decorate your cake with a little of what’s on the inside to give a hint of what it’s offering

Practice makes perfect - slicing candied peel into hearts

Practice makes perfect – slicing candied peel into hearts. No fingers were lost in this process

Armenian Orange cake is the most intensely orange cake I’ve ever tasted. Perfect if you like a fruity cake that’s not too sweet. The almonds give it a wonderful texture and the added sweetness from the icing lifts the slightly bitter tang of the orange peel.  An interesting cake with a healthy twist, it’s a wonderfully moist and light summery bake. The full oranges give the cake a whole other level of moisture and depth of flavour. Another cake that would be perfect with a strong cup of tea or an espresso. This is great cake for those who enjoy a good pound cake and who aren’t a great fan of buttercream icing. Although you could ice this in any which way you prefer if you’re a buttercream fan go for it. I heart all cake! Yum!

Armenian Orange and Almond Cake
A perfect piece of my heart - armenian orange and almond cake
Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

Things that I used to make my Armenian Orange and Almond Cake

  • 2 oranges
  • 6 eggs
  • 230g sugar
  • 230g almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  1. Boil the oranges for 2 hours
  2. Blend the soft oranges into a paste
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar until frothy
  4. whisk in the almonds and baking powder
  5. Whisk in the orange paste until all is combined
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 9 inch tin at 200 degrees C or 400F

Icing

  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 tbs orange blossom water
  • the zest of one orange
  • a little water to thin the icing if need

Mix it all together until smooth and thick. Pour over the cake.

*Or dust with icing sugar! The choice is all yours

 

That icing sugar sure disappears fast!

 

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41. Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

Welcome to Otto and Fanny’s

When choosing which island to visit in Fiji the Yasawas stood out a mile, mainly due to the lure of wonderful food at Otto’ and Fanny’s. We spent an entire week soaking up the scorching Sun, lounging in hammocks,

wandering down idyllic white sandy beaches,

The perfect beach

avoiding falling coconuts, going to bed when the electric was switched off and rising when the drums called us for breakfast. It was absolutely perfect.

Our beautiful straw bure – Home Sweet Home

In our straw bure, despite the cockroaches and millions of mosquitos, who can’t help but be happy when you’re being fed freshly caught fish which is so thick it was difficult to tell if it was fish or meat?

Bula Bula! Welcome to Fanny and Otto’s where the wine is  almost the same price as the water

And when the wine is (almost) cheaper than the water! Frankly I could spend my life sunbathing and eating if only the mosquitos didn’t love me so much…

Afternoon tea at Fanny and Otto’s was infamous with travellers making a special trip just to sample the delights. We ate banana cake and chocolate cake by the boat load with a hot cup of tea made from collected rain water.

What’s not to love?

The cake itself was worth the 5hour boat rude to reach the Yasawas. I haven’t been able to find the exact recipe to recreate the tremendous square slabs of banana cake but I reckon this one is pretty close. I also failed to take a photo of the cake in question! ( This was back in the day before I had a baking blog or the thought had even crossed my mind…)

Fijian Banana Cake

This cake is really quick to make and feeds a lot of people! It’s good by itself and even better with custard!

Step 1: Beat together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy

I use an electric whisk to get the butter really fluffy. Keep whisking until it becomes a lighter colour – then you know it;s full of wonderful air.

2. The one handed egg crack technique – multi tasking to the extreme

Whisk in the eggs one at a time. It’s taken some practice but I’ve mastered the one handed egg cracking technique now. It makes this whisking so much quicker! Don’t worry if it starts to look like it’s curdling, just keep whisking. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of your  bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is incorporated into the batter.

Keep whisking… until it’s really fluffy

Whisk in the flour

Normally I would fold in flour to a fluffy egg batter to preserve the air content and ensure a light and tender sponge, however the recipe didn’t say to do this. I was feeling particularly lazy and the thought of washing another spoon saddened me. So I reckoned I could just keep using the electric whisk. After all when Mary Berry uses self raising flour in sponge cakes she whisks everything using her ‘all in one method’ and it always works!

Add the mushed up bananas

This cake is perfect if you have a few brown bananas that need to be used up. Mash up your tired bananas and add them to the mix. Again I was already using the whisk so I thought let’s carry on regardless. Let’s whisk these bananas up too!

Pour in the coconut milk

Coconut milk is a wonderful addition to this cake. Coconut and banana goes so well together! I added slightly more milk than the recipe asked for as I chose to use wholemeal flour, which is a bit drier than plain flour. It’s also more of a healthy option. I can’t pretend that I chose this purely for health benefits however, as I had a bag of self raising wholemeal flour that needed to be eaten. It worked beautifully!

Whisk everything together into a liquid batter

With the final whisk the liquid banana batter is ready for the oven. Don;t be alarmed by how runny it is! It means the mixture spreads out really well into all the corners of your tin. Producing a really smooth surface, which is pratically unheard of in my cakes.

Pre baking

A mere 40 minutes in the oven and you have a perfect slice of Fiji on your plate. This cake is amazing. It was wonderful straight from the oven but even better the following day all by itself. It developed a sweet gloss on the top after a day of rest in my cake box. It’s a beautifully moist cake and the added texture from the wholemeal flour gave it an extra dimension.

Golden Brown texture like sun

With slivers of banana making an appearance throughout the cake it makes a wonderful breakfast cake (but then again show me a cake not fit for breakfast!), a mid afternoon pick me up or a full on pudding with custard/ice cream. Just take your biggest knife and chop it into rectangular slabs and devour.

Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

It just so happened that I was preparing for another race (post Great North Run!) The Edinburgh Great Run 10k and bananas a my favourite running fuel. This is now my favourite running cake. Delicious and nutritious.

Bananas and custard – so comforting

Things that I used to make Otto and Fanny’s Fijian Banana Cake

Serves more than 20 (small -ish portions)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 table spoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 cups of wholemeal or normal self raising flour (If using plain flour (all purpose), add 5 teaspoons of baking powder)
  • 1 ½ cups of milk or coconut milk (add a bit more – 1 can of coconut milk – if using wholemeal flour)
  • 4 bananas
  • one deep rectangular baking tray (approx 9cms by 25cm)
  • bake for 40-45 minutes at about 170 degrees c

Wish you were here

38. South Korean Sweet Potato Cake with Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

This recipe was inspired by what I had left in my fridge. One lonely sweet potato. Upon returning from holiday to Amsterdam I needed a quick and exotic bake for my sister’s birthday. I wasn’t entirely sure that everyone would enjoy a South Korean sweet potato cake but hey, this is what you get when your little sister sets up an international baking blog challenge!

This was actually quite quick to make, the most time being spent peeling and dicing the sweet potato so it could be boiled and mashed into a gloriously orange mush.

Mushed Sweet Potato

I love sweet potatoes and have been eating them a LOT in my preparation for the Great North Run which is (gulp!!) next Sunday!! They promise many vitamins (A, C and B6), antioxidants AND they have anti inflammatory properties! Perfect for soothing those aching joints and muscles post running! ..So this cake is (almost) practically healthy!

Creamy butter and sugar

I started by creaming the butter and two types of sugar together with my handheld electric whisk for about 5 minutes until it became lighter and fluffy.

Then add one egg at a time and vanilla and keep on whisking

Then add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time,vanilla and keep on whisking until they’re incorporated completely. It take about 5 minutes to whisk the mixture up until it’s very light and fluffy.

Lots of fluffy eggs, sugar and butter

Then onto the dry stuff. In a separate bowl I mixed together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Dry stuff, flour, baking powder and salt

Then to stir in the milk to the sweet potato along with the syrup (as I don’t keep maple syrup in my cupboard I substituted it for golden syrup 🙂

IN with the syrup!

Stir it all together until it’s a milky sweet potato soup

Sweet potato soup

Then to gently fold in a third of the flour to the fluffy eggs and butter mixture

Folding in the flour

And then fold in a third of the sweet potato soup

Folding in the sweet potato soup

And alternate folding in a third of the flour and a third of the soup until all the ingredients are incorporated creating an orange flecked liquid batter.

All in!

The original recipe was to make two 9 inch round cakes. But I wanted one big cake and I love my lazy cake pan (PushPan) and use it at every opportunity I get! It really speeds up the process as it’s really non stick and leak proof! AND my favourite bit! No lining required! No wasted paper and effort. Just a quick spritz with cake release et voila! One quick cake! I wish I could afford more of them.

Just baked. Look at that deep brown!

I used one 9 inch tin to cake all of the batter in a 180 degrees C (or 350 degree F)  oven for 40 to 50 minutes. Until it’s baked evenly, with a golden top. This cake shrank back beautifully from the sides of the tin too to tell me it was ready for eating. I made sure it was done by sticking a cocktail stick in it and it came out clean on my check.

I always leave a cake to cool in it’s pan for at least 15 minutes before turning it out to cool fully on the wire rack. I learnt this the hard way as I once took my Christmas cake out of the tin straight away and it fell into 3 massive chunks in my hands. I did shed a tear at this after waiting patiently for it by the oven for 5 hours. They definitely need a bit of cooling to hold their shape! (Luckily I managed to stick my cake back together with jam and a bit of marzipan to cover the cracks and no one knew the difference!)

Tester sweet potato cupcakes

I was worried that this cake might be a bit odd on our English palettes so I made some tester cupcakes alongside my large cake. I needn’t have worried! It was delicious! I has only meant to try the corner of one cupcake and 2 minutes later the whole thing has disappeared into my tummy. It’s quite a sweet and slightly savoury sponge. A bit like carrot cake but without the grated carrot texture. It’s also a lot more moist than carrot cake.

You could stop here as the recipe didn’t give any sort of filing or frosting and the cake is sweet enough to eat as a sponge in it’s own right. HOWEVER if like me you want to take things a step further I found an amazing recipe for Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting, which is very reminiscent of rice pudding with a whole can of evapourated milk but with dessicated coconut instead of rice. Delicious! And what I love even more about this recipe is it takes 15 minutes with no trace of icing sugar to be swept up from every corner of your kitchen afterwards! This is a great alternative to buttercream which my family aren’t a huge fan of.

Throw into a pan egg yolks,  evapourated milk, sugar and vanilla

Choosing my heaviest sauce pan I added the sugar, egg yolks and milk to it along with the vanilla and stirred it all together

Continue to stir over a medium heat for 12 minutes until it thickens

Once it reaches the ‘pudding’ stage (it’s as thick as pudding) take the pan off the heat, throw in the dessicated coconut and Bob’s your uncle you’ve made coconut custard!

Then it needs to be cooled completely before spreading it over your cake.

Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

As Mary Berry ‘s sage advice is to include a little of what’s in your cake on your cake so I lovingly adorned the cake with slices of coconut too.

South Korean Sweet Potato Cake and Coconut Custard Frosting

I was very pleasantly surprised by this cake and the combination of coconut custard. This was my very first ever attempt at making custard too and given the opportunity (and a spoon) I could merrily eat the whole pan of it by itself. That would definitely warm you up on a winter’s night! It was so sweet and comforting. You probably couldn’t eat more than one slice as it is quite a dense cake but I’m always up for a challenge. Now I’m thinking about it again I wish I had another huge chunk to tuck into! I’m happy to report that my sister enjoyed it too!

Sweet Potato Cake and Coconut frosting a sideways glance

Things I used to make South Korean Sweet Potato Cake

  • 1 cup of soft butter
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed, boiled, and mashed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (golden syrup)

15 min  Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

Things I used to make Creamy Coconut Custard Frosting

  • 1 (13-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut