Over the weekend I had the sudden urge to drop everything and bake.
It was a craving for the methodical mixing of butter, sugar and eggs; the creation of something tangible to sit in warm, syrupy glory on the bench top and waft sweet aromas throughout the apartment.
In times of change or mounting tasks that seem discouragingly far from completion (several loads of laundry requiring washing, drying, ironing and folding; re-potting houseplants who’ve outgrown their homes; getting another set of keys cut; mentally planning the working week ahead; scrubbing the shower; calling my grandmother to ease my guilt of not speaking to her for weeks; arranging an overseas holiday to match the air tickets I purchased months ago)….
…Well, when all this chaos is bouncing at high speed around one’s brain, being able to follow a clear set of instructions and turn out a tiny, hopeful result in the midst of disorder is quite cheering.
Even for an experimental, non-follower-of-instructions cook like me.
I’d received some wonderfully vibrant tangelos from my good friend M, whose mother owns the beautifully tendered garden that I’ve shared previously (here).
Their tangelo tree is currently laden with fruit, adding a glorious pop of colour to surroundings which are otherwise subdued in the midst of their winter hues.
After my first successful round of baking (a banana, date and walnut cake which I’m sure will feature here one day), I was feeling more consoled but still in need of the therapeutic benefits of baking.
Inspired by the vivid tangelos sitting on the kitchen table, I used them as a substitute in the classic combination of almond meal and orange.
Tangelos provide a very similar flavour but have a nice, restrained ‘tang’ that distinguishes them from their orange cousins – ideal for balancing sweetness.
The almond meal retains the moisture of the fruit juice, resulting in an almost pudding-like cake.
You can serve it warm, straight from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone – or let it cool and save slices for a rainy day, when in need of some sunshine and satisfying cheer.
flourless tangelo & almond cake
3 cups almond meal
juice of 2 tangelos
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
1 cup castor sugar
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
juice of 1 tangelo
¼ cup castor sugar
Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a loaf pan with greaseproof paper.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until creamy and light.
Reduce the mixer speed to slow and carefully add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until the mixture is fully incorporated.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in the plain yogurt and add to the butter mixture, along with the citrus juices, vanilla extract and scraped vanilla seeds.
Beat on a slow speed to ensure all ingredients are combined.
Finally, using a spatula, gently fold through the almond meal so that you end up with an even, wet batter.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean.
Set aside to cool whilst preparing the tangelo syrup.
Place the citrus juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the syrup has reduced and become viscous.
Pour the syrup over the cake whilst still warm and allow it to soak into the cake before slicing.