Almond, Orange & Saffron Cake
I love contrast. Light, dark, bitter, sweet, soft, strong, black, white, whisper, loud, cloudy, bright, cause, effect, beginning, end. Sometimes it’s not enough to luxuriate in the gray area; you have to stretch your arms wide and reach out to the fringes. You know, pull the ends together to a point of juxtaposition…until the opposites are uncomfortably close. Maybe that’s this cake for me. Bright, dark, nutty, deep, citrus spark, spicy, intense, playful. But, heck, if you feel the need to luxuriate–by all means, have your slice with an insanely large scoop of freshly whipped cream.
If you like citrus, this is your game. If you need a gluten-free sweet, try this. If you’re looking for an under-10-ingredient cake, dig in. If you’re wanting something different, don’t wait.
The orange will grab your attention, but the saffron and cardamom will pull you in and linger on your tastebuds.
Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.
~ Victor Hugo
- 2 medium oranges, chopped (including peel)
- 5 eggs, separated
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4 cup milk (or unsweetened original almond milk), for soaking saffron threads
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 2 cups ground raw almonds (grind to a flour consistency in a food processor)
- 2 tablespoons sliced or finely chopped raw almonds
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the base and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
- Warm the milk (or almond milk) for 30 seconds in the microwave in a small bowl. Remove the milk from the microwave and place a small pinch (5-6) of saffron threads in the warm milk. Soak the threads in the milk for 30 minutes.
- While the saffron is soaking, heat the chopped oranges in a pan over low heat with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook with a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, until the oranges are soft and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. When cool, finely chop the oranges in a food processor.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually stir in the superfine sugar and continue to whisk for 1 minute.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the remaining superfine sugar for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the oranges and then fold in the ground almonds, ground cardamom, and saffron (with the soaking milk). With a large metal spoon, fold in spoonfuls of egg whites until everything is well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, sprinkle with sliced or chopped almonds and bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes (or until golden brown). Check every 20 minutes while baking.
- Let the cake cool in the pan before turning out and dusting with powdered sugar.
- Store in an airtight container for 3 days.