Monday, March 16, 2015

Orange, carrot and almond cake (no flour, butter or oil!)

This post has been a long time coming. There was a quick family trip to the subpolar temperatures in NY (although there was plenty of sunshine and love to warm our hearts while there). Then came jet lag, work overload and, to be honest, also a reasonable degree of laziness.

Until a few days ago, when I finally decided to bake a cake that had piqued my curiosity a while ago when it kept turning up in one version or another on some favorite blogs, to finally see it pop up again here a few weeks ago.

Of course what originally caught my attention was the concept of boiling a whole citrus fruit and then blending it, skin and all, to become the base of the batter. Now I was further intrigued by the idea of baking with no flour/carbs. And of course, the leitmotif of this blog of mine, the idea of a one-bowl, five-ingredient cake (well six, because I threw in a large, knobbly carrot too at the last minute) appeals to me even more.

So we have oranges, carrots, almond meal, sugar (mostly refined), eggs and baking soda. No flour, no butter, no oil. Lactose and gluten free.

I tweeked the last recipe I linked back to by using mostly unrefined sugar (unfortunately I ran out while baking this or I would have used only unrefined sugar). I also added that carrot I mentioned above because my orange didn't weigh in at 350gr. Plus, hooray for the extra nutrients and vitamins, right?

What I pulled out of the oven was Bundt cake with a very grown up, heady aroma of Christmas Eve and Mediterranean nights and a pudding/flan-like consistency. Don't get me wrong, it has some crumb, but it is moist and dense at the same time, making it hard to decide whether to eat it with a fork or a spoon.

I liked it and was perfectly satisfied with the result, although I admit it wasn't love at first bite, and the kids were all "meh" about it (then again I never would have eaten anything even reminiscent of orange zest as a child).

But then it started working its magic. My husband and I just kept going back to it again and again, peeling back the aluminum foil, cutting off sliver after sliver of it (the round serving in the photos is purely for blogging purposes, the whole cake and slices just didn't photograph well).  Then, on the third day, even my daughter (who does not budge once she has made up her mind about not liking something) asked for another slice, quickly followed by another. Something about the lovely citrus fragrance, the nuttiness, and the texture of the almonds and grated carrot just becomes addictive.

1 large or two small oranges (about 325gr)
1 carrot, grated
6 eggs
250gr almond meal/flour
250gr sugar (preferably unrefined - I used a mix)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt (optional)
butter and flour for tin
A few hours before baking the cake, bring a pot of water to a boil and slowly simmer the orange(s) for about an hour, or until it goes completely soft and you can easily pierce itwith a fork. Drain and let cool.
Blend 250gr of peeled almonds until you until reduced to flour, our buy it pre-packaged.
Grate the carrot, preheat the oven to 190°C and thoroughly grease a baking tin (I used a bund pan but any kind works -however, keep in mind that a loose base will make it much easier to extract it) with butter. Coat with flour and set aside. 
When the orange(s) has cooled off, cut into quarters and get rid of any seeds. Then reduce the citrus to a pulp by blending it in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Then, beating after every addition, mix in the orange pulp, carrot, sugar, almond meal and the baking powder (and salt, if using).
When your batter is ready, pour into the tin and bake in the oven for up to an hour. After about 45 minutes check it by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean it will be ready. Otherwise, cover it with some aluminum foil so it doesn't get too dark, and bake a little longer.
Let cool and unmold.


  1. This looks amazing, and such a great recipe to have up my sleeves for friends with allergies.

    1. Yes, it is always difficult to think of something last-minute for people with allergies

  2. This is one of my favourite cakes. I remember the first time I tried it from a cake shop and I couldn't find anything that matched that wonderful texture! I haven't used carrot in mine but it's a great idea. And yes to going back for sliver after sliver! :P

  3. I love the sound of this cake and how the aroma reminds you of Christmas Eve. And how it is gluten-free! My mother used to make a very similar cake and yes, I always loved it xx

  4. I have been baking this cake fro over a decade (with the carrots, of course) and love it. I love using different fruits - or a combination of fruits - and sometimes I glaze it with orange blossom water. It is also so moist that it lasts for a long time! Love it! Thanks for the reminder, Fiona!

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