Moroccan Mandarin and Almond Cake

Can I just say? My avocado vendor is a hidden gem! She had the most gorgeous Moroccan Mandarins that I got over this weekend. Without a hint of exaggeration, these were the best Oranges I’ve ever had! My family is generally calorie conscious, but with these mandarins, it had to be a cake! Mandarins are these tiny, juicy oranges that are much sweeter and less acidic than some of their larger cousins. They traveled through China and were named Mandarin. Finally they made their way to Europe, down to Italy and finally to Morocco, to the port of Tangier and thus also got the name tangerine. So there are various types of mandarins i.e clemantines, the sweeter, seedless variety. Tangerines, the more tart variety and satsuma, another seedless variety from Japan.

You could do this cake with any kind of mandarin. These vibrant, juicy little bundles of joy are like fireworks in your mouth! Morocco, has a traditional cake called the Meskouta, which is an almond and orange cake with olive oil. It originated in the early 20th century during the French and Spanish colonisation of Morocco. This is something that is made in every home there and every family does it slightly differently. It used to be baked in a special pot with a cover, over charcoal, and they used to put sourdough starter in it because there was no baking powder then! Its one of those things that’s got old world charm but is adapted and done to this day.

Digressing from a traditional Meskouta, I decided to do mine without any regular flour or oil and just use good old almond flour. Its lighter on the tummy and makes you feel a little less guilty about going in for another slice. I topped the cake with mandarin segments, candied lemon slices, almond slivers and finished it off with some vibrant edible flowers. This was literally so good, dad decided to skip dinner that night and polish off the cake instead.

Ingredients

Cake

2 Mandarins

300g Almond flour

7.5g Baking powder

215g castor sugar

3 eggs

Candied Lemons

2 Lemons

500g Water

500g Castor sugar

1 Mandarin ( segmented )

A handful of almond slivers

Edible flowers

Apricot jam

Method

Candied Lemons

Slice the lemons thin. Put the water and the sugar in a pan and boil. Add in the slices of lemons and let it simmer for about 10 mins on a low flame. The skin should turn semi translucent and soft. Remove and transfer to a bowl, cling wrap the bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

Cake

Take the 2 mandarins, put them in a pan and cover with water. Let it boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and let it go further for another 30-45 mins. The oranges should begin to crack open. Drain and set aside to cool. Break open, and remove the seeds. Put them in a blender and purée it till it is smooth.

Preheat the oven to 170 C ( 340 F). Grease and flour a cake tin ( 9 inch diameter).

Measure out the almond flour and baking powder together and set aside. In a kitchenaid , using the whisk attachment, whisk the sugar and eggs on a high speed for 10 mins. It should be light and fluffy. Slice through a pod of vanilla and add in the seeds. Add in the orange purée and fold in with a spatula till well combined. Take this mixture and fold in the almond flour mix.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin till it is about 3/4 full. Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for around 35 mins or so. A skewer inserted into this should come out clean. Remove and let it cool outside for about an hour.

Take some apricot jam in a bowl, mix in a little water and thin it down. It should be easily spreadable. This is used as a glaze over the cake and orange segments.

Unmould. Glaze the mandarin segments with the thinned apricot jam. Dramatically dress the top of your cake with curls of candied lemons, mandarin segments and almond slivers. Brush the rest of the cake with the apricot jam. Add a last flourish of edible flowers.

Brew yourself a cup of coffee and have a slice of cake, morning, evening or night!

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