I was really excited the first time I cooked an orange and poppy seed cake.
I know, I know it seems weird that even though I baked macarons, and fancy as decorated cakes; the thing that makes me keen as mustard to bake is a cake like this. The rich history behind baking a cake made from nut meal and free from dairy products, I believe, traditionally comes from the Jewish holiday of Pass over. It is so noble to abstain from flour and dairy to pay homage to the first mass Pilgrimage to escape being a slave.
As awful as it sounds, my family history is not “rich”.
Nobody (as I know of) comes from a history of war, mass hardship or strict religious traditions. I guess I could consider myself (or my pass ancestors) lucky that nothing extremely bad has happened to them, none the less it would be nice to have one part of the family that has SOME story to tell. All that I got right now is how to farm a rice field in extreme heat and water buffalo care; yes I am not kidding my family history is very stereotypically Asian…
From nothing, my parents and grandparents have worked very hard to make a very comfortable life style for the latest generations. Maybe they would like a slice of this cake too; however I would think they would be happy over the fact we have so much food that we can indulged in hobbies such as baking with such a precocious resource, food.
This flourless orange and poppy seed syrup cake is moreish, moist and highly fragrant. You could almost consider it a health food because of pureed whole oranges in it, use of healthy fats and all those eggs ( protein , duh!)
Hey! A dessert baker can dream right?
Almond meal is a wonderful ingredient as it keep cake moist without making them gummy and spongy; also it is effortless way of increasing the flavour in tea cake as the almonds give that heavenly nutty aroma to the Bundt. While poppy seeds do play a major role in Sephardic cooking; the original recipe did not use them; I just added them because I love the crunchy bits in my teeth. Hahaha, Nah they are very tasty little black dots that impart their smokey flavour into the cake to counter the tart sweetness of navel oranges.
The cake slices beautifully and is so very easy to store . Simply leave it in the fridge once the syrup has been added after baking and it will keep from a good week; getting better as the cake matures. Serve with icing sugar, tart candy orange, or ( if you are feeling cheeky) cream; it make the perfect way to welcome unexpected guest into your home. Nothing says welcome more than cake.
I may not be Jewish nor have a great family story to tell but at least I can bake cake like this and pretend to have connections to such noble people.
Flourless orange and poppy seed syrup cake.
Adapted from Food Safari and Nigella Lawson, How to be a domestic goddess.
Makes one large 25cm round Bundt pan
4 oranges, washed
300 g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
500 g almond meal
40g poppy seeds
15g baking powder
icing sugar, to serve
150g white suagr
40ml orange blossom water
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Wash the oranges and boil in the water for 2 hours or until tender when pricked with a knife. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cool puree to a fine pulp in food processor, Set a side
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease with oil and flour a 25 cm Bundt cake tin.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs and caster until well combined and sugar slightly dissolves. Stir in the orange puree followed by the almond meal, poppy seeds and baking powder. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and dust the top with extra caster sugar. Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin. Poke small holes in warm cake and pour over syrup. Allow to set over night before serving. Dust with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve.