Friday, May 27, 2011

Italian Almond Orange Cake

Also known as Torta di Mandorle con Arancia, this cake is naturally gluten-free.  The ingredients are few, leaving the full flavor of every ingredient to come out.  This cake has a substantial texture with a moist crumb.  Almond flour is the basis of this cake with the zest and juice of one orange,  lots of eggs to give it a sponge cake quality, and just enough sugar to make it sweet.  With all of the eggs in here, there is no need for added leavener such as baking powder.  Over leavening will result in sinking cakes.  This cake is guaranteed to please every cake lover out there, even without any frosting.

  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 210 grams (1 cup) sugar
  • 25 grams (4 tablespoons) potato starch
  • 350 grams (~2 1/3 cups*) blanched almond flour, packed
  • 1 orange, room temperature, zested and juiced
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350oF.  Scale all the ingredients (weigh into bowls, containers) and separate eggs.  In a bowl, combine the potato starch with the almond flour until thoroughly mixed.  Put the egg whites into a medium mixing bowl and the yolks into a large mixing bowl.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt with very clean and dry beaters.  Beat until they reach a firm peak, holding their peaks.  Put aside.

Beat the sugar into the egg yolks.  If it get too thick and seizes up, add a small amount of the orange juice.  Beat on high until the mixture is pale yellow and creamy.  Slowly fold in the potato starch/almond flour in three additions, slowly adding in remaining orange juice in between additions.  The carefully fold in the orange zest.  Followed by folding in the whipped egg whites, again in three additions to ensure fluffy batter.

Turn into a parchment lined and sprayed cake pan or springform pan.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch, and toothpick comes out clean.  Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.  Dust with sifted powdered/icing sugar before serving.

Makes one 8-9” cake.  Serves 8-12 depending on size of slices.
Total time:  1 hour
Egg whites whip up better when warmer, and a little bit of salt holds the peaks better.  Sugar will “burn” egg yolks if not mixed immediately, so wait to add sugar until ready to beat.
* Remember, for best results - weigh!  When I did this cake for a class, my assistant first measured by volume (cups) and realized the measurements were off.  The way he measured it volumetrically - took 4 cups to weigh 350 grams.  Weighing is a lot easier, too.  Especially, if you use a scale with negative weight readings.  Just put a bag of the flour on the scale, tare, and start scooping out until the you hit the target weight.  My favorite scale is this one by OXO.


Lisa at Gluten Free Canteen said...

Yep. Weighing is the the way to go! That looks fabulous and I might have to run into the kitchen and make some this afternoon. Mmmmm.

Cindy said...

Looks delicious!

Ruth Beal said...

I tried baking the cake. I found it heavy and very bland. Gluten free does not mean it has to be tasteless.
I was disappointed in the outcome. Ruth

Erin Swing said...

Ruth: So sorry to hear this! I agree strongly that gluten-free does not mean it has to be tasteless!!!! We can figure this out... Nothing I make is tasteless nor bland.

First, read this recipe at least twice before following. Follow the recipe exactly. No substitutions. No shortcuts. Weight the almond flour. Use good, quality ingredients. Inferior quality ingredients are usually tasteless. Remember, the fewer ingredients in a recipe, the more critical it is to use the best ingredients. If you do not have fresh, flavorful oranges, use Penzeys orange zest (1 tablespoon hydrated in 1/2 cup orange juice) + 1/2 teaspoon of orange oil. Winter is the prime season for oranges! Another trick is to add another pinch of salt, which really potentates the flavors. Maybe add a tablespoon of really good quality vanilla. If you follow this recipe exactly, separating the eggs, whipping the whites and carefully folding in the rest of the cake batter, you should get a nice cake!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the almond flour was fresh in the comment describing the cake trial as tasteless.
Stale or rancid flour so easily ruins the flavor of gluten free baking. Nut flours need to be stored in the freezer in my experience.

Anonymous said...

Just made that cake for Easter for 9 people and it was a great success . I like the fact that there is no butter. To make it more festive, I served that with sides of whipped cream mixed with yogurt, strawberries , vanilla ice cream,roasted rhubarb. The cake is also delicious by itself.