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Warm Tunisian Orange and Almond cake and How I Got to Like Mums

September 18, 2011 · 33 comments

in Baking,Desserts,Sweets

orange almond syrup cake image

I really like mums. I didn’t always particularly though. When my friends and I were unruly teenagers skulking in parks after dark and knocking back gutrot that bore so little resemblance to actual vodka that it was labelled “vodka flavoured beverage” in basements, parents – our own and and others – were to be strictly avoided lest they… Actually I’m not sure exactly what, it was just the implied threat of having to have a conversation or something I guess.

syrup image on sasasunakku

As I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise what a joy it is that my nearest and dearest generally come as packages; somehow I lucked out on the friends-with-cool-mums lottery. They’re a trove of good recipes amongst plenty of other things and I grew to look forward to catching up with them whenever I came home to visit from overseas whether the dearests happened to be there or not.

almond orange and star anise cake image on sasasunakku

The other day I was the lucky recipient of a slice of a cake that makes my top five delicious cakes of all time. People, I have eaten a lot of cake during my time on this earth and I tell you, if I that does not an authority make (plus! I chose nine out of nine flavours correctly the other day in a blind taste test of sweet, salty, sour and bitter!) I do not know what would.

whole orange almond cake image on sasasunakku

The cake has a sort of golden caramelised shell that comes from baking it in an oven that starts cold, combined with the syrup that gets poured over it as it’s pulled from the oven, and a nubbly yet moistly yellow interior that comes from almond meal and the soaked-in syrup. It smells of souks and caravanserais minus the ordure. I made it for my best friend’s birthday this past weekend and I shall make it again, doubling the recipe this time, before the week is through. It didn’t make it past day one but I imagine that it is a very good keeper. It sort of reminds me of an exotic version of this yoghurt and lemon cake, though it doesn’t have any yoghurt in it.

almond meal cinnamon cake image sasasunakku

Thanks Deb, for making Joe, and for this cake. The jury is still deliberating about which is better, though he may scrape in on technicalities, just.

Also, some lovely people (remember La Meune?) I used to cook for are starting an online business selling cinnamon. If you want a free sample, you can get one sent to you if you complete the short questionnaire, do it! You know you want to, you like free stuff, right?

Aaaand, this post is participating in Alessandra’s Sweet New Zealand, a way for Kiwi bloggers to get to know each other. This month, Alli is hosting.

Were you unruly as a teenager?

Warm Tunisian Orange and Almond Cake

I suppose some might this call this a homely cake (and I do mean homely, not homey) but I think it’s rather beautiful in its own subtle way. While it’s perfect as-is, a dollop of mascarpone would be a welcome way to make it a little more dessert-like if you’re into that sort of thing. If you double it, you should probably just use an extra half teaspoon of baking powder (ie: a teaspoon and a half, not two). It could be easily made gluten-free if you replaced the breadcrumbs with a gluten-free flour or maybe just more almond meal – I imagine it was originally a way of using up leftover bread.

For the cake

40g (1/3 cup) dried breadcrumbs

200 g (9/10 cup) caster sugar

100g (2/3 cup) ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

200 ml (4/5 cup) sunflower oil

4 medium eggs

Zest of one orange

Zest of half a lemon

For the syrup

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons orange juice

50g (1/5 cup) sugar

½ cinnamon stick

5 – 6 cloves

2 star anise

Lightly grease a 21cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper.

Put all the dry ingredients in one bowl and in another bowl beat the eggs lightly, then beat in the oil.

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat well then pour into the prepared tin and place in a cold oven.

Set the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and bake for 1-1 and 1/4 hours until risen and browned.

Meanwhile, put the ingredients for the syrup into a pan, slowly bring to the boil and cook for a couple of minutes without stirring.

When the cake is cooked take it out of the oven and pour over the syrup while it is still hot, leaving the spices on the cake to decorate. Leave to cool a little before removing from the tin.

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flo September 18, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Nine out of nine is impressive! I am a good boy always.

Joe Jowitt September 19, 2011 at 8:05 am

Hurrah! Great work Sara – that cake was delicious!

hungryandfrozen September 19, 2011 at 8:20 am

Go your tastebuds! That certainly does give you an air of authority.

This cake sounds wonderful, I can only deal with star anise occasionally, but I suspect this would be one of those occasions.

Yes…was significantly unruly :)

Alessandra September 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

I like this cake, breadcrumbs eh, good one :-). And star anise and cinnamon and orange, yum :-), you should enter it in the Sweet New Zealand event, this month the host is Allison of Pease pudding (info here


Stephanie September 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Oh, this looks like the perfect way to use some of the sweet little star anise my dad gave me. And I like the almond meal idea . . .

It’s good to hear your voice again — I missed you while you were so busy studying!

Sasa September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Aw, thank you ^_^

Kocinera September 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I would like some of this cake right now. :D It looks so pretty, plus with all that business of oranges and spices–yum! As far as teenage hijinks go, I think the worst I got up to was constantly wiggling my way out of mandatory school events, like choir performances, etc. The next day at school, the teacher would always tell me I did a great job at the concert, so no one seemed to be the wiser. ^_^

Sasa September 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Yeah, getting away with it definitely makes it better.

Alli September 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm

The syrup sounds divine with all those spices, this is one I will definitely try. I’m intrigued about it starting off in a cold oven!

Nic@diningwithastud September 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

What a beautiful post :) Oh and I would say its probably a homely cake that the homies would like too ;)

Sasa September 20, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Oh yes, the homies, they love this cake.

Eva September 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

My poor parents, 10 years after my teenage horribleness I still have to reassure them that I do in fact like hanging out with them.
This cake looks gorgeous!

muppy September 20, 2011 at 11:14 pm

this looks and sounds amazing, i’m sold.
i’m nervous about the teenage stage now i have my own kids!

Couscous & Consciousness September 20, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Hey Sasa, thanks for stopping by. I have been so out of touch with everyone, and I really miss catching up with fellow bloggers in Auckland from time to time, but feeling happy and settled here now – at long last :-) I would love this cake, I have to try – intrigued by the idea of starting off in a cold oven. See you soon at NZFBC.
Sue xo

Liz September 21, 2011 at 12:42 am

This looks fabulous!! I can’t wait to try it. And the pictures are gorgeous.

Oh…..and yes, I was a bit unruly as a teen.

Lucy September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

hi sasa,

i don’t know how on earth you found me but i am VERY glad that you did. your blog’s a keeper, too.

hi hi hi!

Katie@Cozydelicious September 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm

This cake looks wonderful – so many textures in one cake! I love a good spongy soaked cake, and all of the spices must be fantastic. Yum!

milliemirepoix September 22, 2011 at 12:12 am

Breadcrumbs and ground almonds, very cool. I like everything about the flavours in this cake, too.

Sneakily unruly… don’t know if that really counts, though! ;)

The Grubworm September 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

“Vodka flavoured beverage”? Sounds – um – rotten. We had the rather vague “French spirits” when we weren’t on the White Lightening down in Cornwall. Vicious stuff.

Anything that brings caravanserais to mind has to be a good thing. All that warn nutty spicy scents, the whiff of hot adventure. You can count me in. And it looks spectacular too.

Time for a Little Something September 29, 2011 at 12:07 am

Looks amazing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen star anise in a cake recipe before :) Have printed it out for the ‘to try’ pile!

shaz September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am

Way to go on the taste test Sasa. This cake has definitely gone into the “to-make very soon” list as I am a fan of yogurt and lemon type cakes. And I was a very good teenager thank you (just don’t ask my mum) ;P

Su-yin October 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

I love the look and sound of this cake – and I’m absolutely intrigued by the use of breadcrumbs in it! And of course the fact that is uses oil instead of butter *totally* makes it a sort of health food. :P Bookmarked!

p.s. I love mums too, I get on strangely well with all my friend’s mums…

catty October 4, 2011 at 12:13 am

Hello! Yay you’re blogging again! this cake looks delish and so perfectly square :) something a little different! We must catch up one day soon xx

Michelle October 7, 2011 at 10:20 am

My ideal winter dessert…rustic with ground almonds and warm spices. Lovely!

Suzy October 11, 2011 at 3:51 am

This cake looks delicious. Cinnamon, star anise? Yum!
I was a terribly unruly teenager but am the most boring adult. I think things will heat up again the next time my hormones act up again – menopause. Can you see me in a red ferrari with boob implants – or whatever the female equivalent of a mid life crisis is…

Sasa October 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Butt cheek implants, more like.

Sarah October 11, 2011 at 11:17 am

Oh, this sounds amazing! I love the lemon yogurt cake, and these flavors sound even better.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for the sweet comment. I hope your brother loves the caramel sauce – I know that I do. : )



Englishvers October 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

This looks way too toothsome not to make at home;-)

Lemon October 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

Beautiful photos. This looks like an extremely delicious cake. I love orange cakes, you share a great recipe.

Lana October 19, 2011 at 6:10 am

I can almost smell the cake all the way from NZ:) I love those spices – perfect for Autumn. How is your home treating you? I am still in Serbia, taking care of my mom, but I should be heading home in a week or so (I miss my babies).
I hope you are doing fine:)
And no, I was not an unruly teenager – I wish I had been!

Isaiah Molligan Pulesanderu January 6, 2012 at 5:25 am

I added a hint of orange, keeping the cinnamon just in the crumb topping so as not to overpower the cake with spices and cut down on the sugar.

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