Two Orange Almond Cakes for Passover (gluten-free)

We have been hosting a lot of dinner parties this month.  Last week,  I made two Orange Almond cakes for our guests.  Despite having the same primary flavours, these two cakes were very different from each other.  Clearly, I have a thing for the old almond and orange combo in deserts (tangerine marmalade cake and marmalade and sweet almond custard tart)

One, from the “Moro, The Cookbook”, calls for no dairy (only eggs) and uses almond flour.  It also calls for bitter Seville oranges or Sour oranges (which can be found year round in Caribbean markets in NYC) or for oranges and lemons.  It is light and tender and has a wonderful tart citrus syrup.  The flavour of almond was so subtle that it was undetectable.

The other, I adapted from “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson.  I replaced the tiny bit of flour called for with combination of rice flours and tapioca starch.  The batter was so good that I wanted to eat it raw.  It made a very buttery cake with a nice crumb and it tasted more of almond than citrus.  It also tastes better after a few days wrapped in foil.  If I made it again I would add some cardamom.  I also clearly have a thing for cardamom (cardamom, pistachio, rose shortbread, orange blossom, cardamom, coconut shortbread, almond, cardamom, berry macaroons, poached pear and cardamom apple butter tart)

One of our friends asked for these recipes so that she could make one for passover.  I was not raised in a church, but I love this season of ritualized, symbolic meals and communal storytelling.  The passover meal traditionally includes a cake made with no wheat  flour, because wheat is associated with leavened bread and the Jews did not have time to let their bread rise before fleeing.  Both of these cakes are delicious and would be excellent for a passover meal.  The one from Cafe Moro would be easier to pull off if you do not have a fully stocked gluten-free baking arsenal.  This tangerine marmalade cake  would also be a good choice!


adapted from Moro,  The Cookbook by Sam & Sam Clark

  • 6 room temperature eggs separated
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • finely grated  zest of 2 and 1/2 oranges
  • Juice of 8 oranges or 8 Seville oranges
  • juice of 1 and 1/2 lemons (if not using Seville oranges)
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • about 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9″ springform pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks together with the confectioners sugar.  It will seem like there is not enough liquid but just keep going and it will work itself together.  Beat it until it is pale.
  3. Stir the almond meal and zest into the yolk sugar mixture.
  4. In a separate, clean bowl beat the egg whites until stiff.
  5. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture.  It will be very stiff.  Keep folding it until it is combined and the yolk mixture has lightened a bit, then fold in the remaining egg whites and combine, taking care not to deflate the egg whites too much.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 60-70 minutes, until the cake is golden and firm to the touch.  Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the tin.  While you are waiting you can make the syrup.
  7. Combine the juice of the oranges (and lemons if you are using them) with the cinnamon stick and  1/4 cup of sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer until the mixture becomes syrupy.  Taste it and add more sugar if you like (it should seem quite tart).  Allow the syrup to cool and put it in the fridge.
  8. When the cake and the syrup are cool, turn the cake onto a serving platter.  Pierce the top of the cake with a fork several times.  Pour the syrup over the top and let some of it dribble down the sides.  It okay of some of it pools on the top of the cake. It’ll get soaked up gradually.
Adapted from “How to Eat” by Nigella Lawson
  • 16 Tablespoons of softened butter
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar (plus a little extra for dusting)
  • 4 eggs
  • a generous 1/8 cup brown rice flour
  • a generous 1/8 cups white rice flour
  • a scant 1/8 cup tapioca flour
  • a scant 1/8 cup mochi flour (sweet or glutinous rice flour)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups almond flour
  • a scant 1/8 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, but I think it would be good)
  • 1 scant teaspoon almond extract
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 2 Tablespoons orange blossom water
  1. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.  Preheat he oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all of the flours, xanthan gum and cardamom (if using) in a bowl.
  3. In another, large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until they are very pale.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of the yolks to the butter mixture and stir until just combined.  Add a few tablespoons of the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Continue alternating between eggs and flours until everything is mixed together.
  6. Stir in the almond extract, zest, orange juice and orange blossom water.
  7. Pour the batter in to a prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes.  At that point check on the cake and if it is browning to fast cover it with foil.  Bake for another 20 minutes.
  8. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes and then turn it out of the pan.  Allow it to cool completely and then wrap it in foil.  Let it sit for a day or two before serving.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar sifted through a tea strainer before serving.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Barbara says:

    Hi, making your orange almond cake for the first time and very excited! It’s in the oven now. Can you tell me how I know when the syrup is ready to come off the stove? Approximate time it should simmer before cooling?
    Thanks and happy holidays!

    1. Hello Barbara!

      The original recipe says to simmer it for 5 minutes but I found that it took more like 10 to make a syrup. I wasn’t very thick because it didn’t have much sugar in it, but even my thin syrup worked very well! I hope that you enjoy the cake!


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