And now, a showstopper dessert from Southern Italy. This gorgeous cake is redolent of the aromas the Sicilian countryside where almonds, oranges and olives thrive. Its interior is springy and moist, golden from olive oil, orange juice, and sweet wine. Its nut-brown crust is soaked in an amaretto glaze, which makes a sticky canvas for a shower of sliced almonds and candied orange peel. This cake is perfect for a celebration, even if that special occasion is simply getting to eat this cake.
Sicilian Almond Orange Cake
Makes one 8-inch cake
for the cake
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup superfine sugar
Juice and grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
A few drops of vanilla extract
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp vin santo or other sweet dessert wine, such as Muscatel
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
for the orange glaze
1/2 cup superfine or confectioners’ sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 large unwaxed orange
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur, such as Disaronno
1 heaping tbsp sliced almonds
Peel of 1 unwaxed orange, pith removed, finely sliced in long strips
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line an 8-inch springform pan, or an 8-inch non stick cake pan with parchment paper and rub the sides with a little olive oil.
- In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attached, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Use a spatula to carefully remove the egg whites to a clean bowl.
- Replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment. Add the egg yolks and the sugar to the bowl of the standing mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Add the orange juice and zest, and vanilla. Add the olive oil and wine to the mixture and beat well. With the machine on low, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Scrape the wet ingredients back into the large mixing bowl. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in 3 additions, using the rubber spatula and turning the bowl as you fold. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cake is risen and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cover with foil if it starts to brown too quickly. Remove from the oven and let cool until cool enough to handle. Release from pan if using a springform pan, and flip to remove the bottom and place on plate. Alternately, run a butter knife around the edges and flip to remove parchment and place on a plate.
- While the cake bakes, make the candied orange peel and the glaze. Boil a small pot of water and blanch the orange strips for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat in a fresh pot of water. Drain and dry the orange strips. Set aside in a small bowl. Place the sliced almonds in another small bowl.
- Add the sugar and the orange juice to the pot and heat over medium-high heat until it comes almost to a boil. Reduce the heat and bubble up for 5-8 minutes, until reduced and syrupy. Stir in the liqueur and orange zest and bubble up for 2 more minutes, then remove from heat. Pour a little of the syrup over the bowls of orange peel and sliced almonds and stir to coat.
- Once the cake is on the serving platter, poke the warm cake all over with a toothpick or skewer. Spoon the glaze over the cake and let it soak in. Scatter with the almonds and orange peel. Serve with mascarpone or Greek yogurt mixed with some honey and orange zest.