It’s been a long while since James and I had a proper baking session, so we decided to whip up this insanely moist gluten-free cake on Saturday. Most of you are probably familiar with the classic orange and almond cake, so we decided to put a little spin on it. We used ground hazelnuts in the recipe instead of the usual almond meal, a concept that has served me well in the past. This cake is a little time-consuming to make, mostly because you’ve got to boil and then purée a couple of oranges before you even start on the cake batter. But it’s all worth the effort, guys. Believe me.
This is a very moist and sweet cake, wholly bursting with fruity, nutty flavours that scream I-am-perfect-for-afternoon-tea. And the whole thing is made even better by the sticky-glossy orange syrup that crowns the tender grittiness of the ground hazelnuts. The bits of orange rind counterbalances the sweetness of the cake with welcome touches of bitterness, and the buttery notes from the salt-sprinkled caramelised walnuts add an extra layer of flavour as well as crunch, giving the soft, crumbly cake additional texture.
The caramelised walnuts are a dream. And they are so easy to make. If you’re not here for the cake and would just like to whip up an entire bag of caramelised walnuts for your next Game of Thrones viewing, skip ahead to the recipe right at the end of this post. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare and are a great accompaniment to any TV or movie marathon!
Flourless Orange & Hazelnut Cake with Caramelised Walnuts
a gluten & grain free recipe; adapted from Michaela’s orange & almond cake.
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups hazelnut meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
for the orange syrup:
½ cup caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 170°C and generously grease an 8″ springform cake tin .
- Place oranges in a large saucepan filled with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook oranges for 15 minutes. Drain and repeat the process a second time. Drain and rinse the oranges under cold water.
- When no longer hot to handle, chop oranges into small pieces (remove any seeds), then place in a food processor and process until smooth.
- In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla extract, then fold in the orange, hazelnut meal and baking powder until just incorporated.
- Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let stand for 20 minutes to cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the orange syrup. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the orange. Cut rind into thin strips. Juice the orange.
- Place the rind into a small saucepan of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes or until soft. Drain the water and add the orange juice and sugar to the pan. Place over low heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens.
- Transfer the cake to a large serving plate and use a skewer to gently poke holes into the top. Pour the syrup over the cake. Decorate with caramelised walnuts (see recipe below).
Caramelised Walnuts with Sea Salt
1 cup walnuts
¼ cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon butter
a pinch of flaky sea salt
- Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts, sugar and butter and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent burning and to ensure all the sugar melts and the nuts are coated.
- Transfer immediately onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper and quickly separate the nuts using two spatulas. If you don’t move fast enough, the mixture will begin to harden and it will be impossible to separate the nuts once they have cooled.
- Sprinkle the cooling nuts with flaky sea salt.