This nut cake works with most fruits – but I just love the tart citrusy orange, combined with the pistachios. If blood oranges aren’t in season, then you can use standard oranges but just make sure they have thin skins.
Nut cakes are a great way to bake when you go gluten-free and you can play around with different flour combinations. Almond flour and chestnut flour are both great friends of the gluten-free baker. This recipe calls for pistachio paste – this can be bought online, or you can make your own by whizzing up 125g pistachios with 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
FOR THE CAKE
90g unsalted pistachios, shelled
180g gluten-free plain flour
grated zest of 1 blood orange
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
25g light muscovado sugar
3 medium free-range eggs
20g pistachio paste (see recipe intro)
100g plain Greek or coconut yogurt
pinch of cardamom (optional)
¼ teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
FOR THE SYRUP
100g caster sugar
125ml blood orange juice or freshly squeezed regular orange juice
FOR THE CANDIED ORANGES
200g caster sugar
2–3 (blood) oranges, thinly
sliced, end slices discarded
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease and line the base of a 22cm cake
In a food-processor, grind the pistachios until they are fine, making sure not to over-mix to a paste. Add the flour, orange zest, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and gently pulse to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
With the mixer set on low, add the eggs, one at a time. Then add the pistachio paste and yogurt and mix until incorporated.
If using, add the cardamom and/or orange blossom water, then slowly add the pistachio and flour mixture until the batter comes together. Scrape into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top.
Bake for 45 minutes (check the cake is cooked by popping a knife or skewer into the centre – it’s ready when it comes out clean and the top is browned). You can cover the cake with a layer of baking parchment if it appears to be browning too quickly.
For the syrup, combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium–low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Leave the liquid to gently bubble for a minute once the sugar has dissolved.
Using a toothpick, gently prick the top of the cake. Pour the warm syrup over the top of the cake and leave to cool in the tin.
When making the candied oranges, bear in mind that blood oranges are only available seasonally, so if you can’t get them, make sure you only use oranges with thinner skins and a thin layer of pith, as you will be eating all of it and, even when candied, thick orange rind can be very chewy and tart. Thinner slices of oranges and thinner layers of pith are also much easier to cut when on top of the cake. As the amount of pith can vary a lot between oranges and it’s impossible to tell before slicing, I generally choose 3–4 oranges and use the slices with the least amount of pith and the juice from the extra 1 or 2.
Place 250ml water and the sugar in a large, heavy-based pan with a lid. Arrange the orange slices in a single layer in the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Once it is boiling and the sugar has fully dissolved, cover loosely with the lid, reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for 1 hour, or until the pith of the oranges becomes translucent and soft. Leave the oranges to cool in the pan, until they reach room temperature. Candied blood oranges can be made ahead and stored in their syrup in the refrigerator until ready to serve, then warmed to room temperature.
To serve, remove the cooled cake from the pan, peeling the parchment from the bottom. It’s easier to place the cake on a cake plate or cake stand to decorate it. Gently arrange the candied blood orange slices on top of the cake. Work from the centre outwards and then layer the rest of the orange slices in overlapping concentric circles. Once the cake is covered with the orange slices, spoon any remaining syrup on top to give a glossy finish, allowing a bit to drizzle down the sides.
More stunning gluten-free recipes in Gluten Free, Naturally by Caroline Byron