The spirit is willing but…

It’s true, I just recently made the resolution not to buy any more kitchen tools. Easier said than done – when I was in an overstuffed kitchen supply store in New York this week, I succumbed to the temptation. No matter how much my friend teased me, saying I did not need this ludicrous “beginner’s tool”, I bought an egg separator ($1.91 including tax, so money-wise it was a modest impulse purchase). And, I must say it came very handy for the eight eggs that went into the almond-orange cake for a Passover Seder.

I started out with Claudia Roden’s recipe for Almond Cake in Orange Syrup from The Book of Jewish Food but ended up combining and tweaking several of her recipes. Because the cake had to travel several hours to its destination, I assembled it on site. Next time I will definitely use a springform pan, which is higher than the cake pan I used. My cake baked over the rim and crumbled, but since it is sitting in syrup anyway, the imperfection could be disguised by flipping the “ugly” side to the bottom.

Almond Cake with Oranges

Oranges in syrup:

4 large oranges, at least two of them organic

3 cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

Cake:

7 ounces unpeeled raw almonds

8 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups orange juice (can be store-bought, but use a good quality)

2 tablespoons orange liqueur (Cointreau)

1. For the oranges in syrup, scrub the two organic oranges with a brush under running water. Dry and zest them thinly. Peel the other two oranges. Thoroughly remove the white pith from all the oranges.

2. Cut the oranges into even 1-inch slices and remove any seeds and pith from the middle.

3. Bring 4 cups water, the sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a large skillet. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

4. Carefully place the orange slices in the skillet, if possible in a single layer. Put an inverted dinner place on top to fully immerse the slices in the liquid. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

5. Remove the oranges from the liquid with a slotted spoon. Spread them in one layer on a large plate.

6. Boil down the syrup at high heat to about half. Let cool.

7. Place the almonds in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes, then drain and fill the bowl with cold water. Slip the almonds out of their skins and spread them on paper towels to dry.

8. Grind half of the almonds finely in the food processor. Chop the other half of the almonds to a coarser but not chunky consistency, using the pulse function.

9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.

Chop the orange zest very finely.

10. Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, cinnamon, and almonds. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the batter.

11. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the cake browns too much but is not done yet, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.

12. Let cool slightly, then carefully remove from the pan and cool completely on a cake rack.

13. Boil the orange juice down to about half. Let cool and stir in the Cointreau.

14. A couple of hours before serving, place the cake on a deep cake plate. Pierce the cake several times with a fork. Drizzle with half of the reduced orange juice.  Arrange the orange slices on top and brush them with a bit of the syrup for a glaze. Pour the rest of the reduced orange juice all around the cake and chill until serving.

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