After the lovely weather of a few weeks ago vanished into what looks like being yet another washed out English summer, I found myself dreaming of days spent in Barcelona, Valencia and Seville, bones warmed by the Mediterranean sun, delicious food at my beck and call, so this recipe positively leapt off the page of my rain-spattered Metro newspaper on a grey commute into Manchester. I made the cake at the weekend, deciding to forgo the caramel oranges so that we could eat it sliced from the cake tin when the sun yet again failed to make an appearance.
The ground almonds add an almost fudge-like texture to the cake and the scent of the orange zest brings back memories of ad-hoc picnics beneath orange trees in the cloister gardens of the Monasterio de San Clemente in Seville. ¡Muy Delicioso!
Almond Bizcocho with Caramel Oranges
Ingredients (Serves 8)
200ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
175g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
100g ground almonds
175g caster sugar
3 large, free-range eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
For the caramel oranges:
8 blood oranges or small, juicy oranges
200g caster sugar
6tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
Step 1: For the caramel oranges, cut a slice off the top and bottom of each orange, then slice away all the skin, ensuring the white pith is completely removed. Cut each orange across the segments into slices, reserving all the juices. Put the sugar into a large pan with 120ml cold water. Leave over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly until the syrup has turned into a brick-red caramel. Remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into cold water to stop it cooking any further. Stand back (as it will splutter) and add the orange juice. The caramel will form a lump in the bottom of the pan. Return to a low heat and stir until it dissolves again. Leave to cool very slightly then, while it is still liquid, pour over the sliced oranges and chill for at least 1 hour.
Step 2: For the almond bizcocho, preheat the oven to 170°C /gas mark 3. Grease a 1kg loaf tin with olive oil and line with greaseproof paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and stir in ground almonds and caster sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs, olive oil, orange zest and juice. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet to make a smooth batter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour, covering the surface loosely with a sheet of paper after about 50min, once it is a rich golden brown. A skewer, pushed into the centre of the cake, should come away clean.
Step 3: Remove the cake from the tin and peel back the lining paper. Leave to cool on a wire rack. To serve, cut into 16 slices. Place a slice on to each plate and spoon some of the caramel oranges partly over the slice. Top with another slice and drizzle over a little caramel syrup.