Today marks the first day of spring, but here in the arctic tundra (also known as Chicago) we are waking up to temperatures in the low teens with wind chills hovering around zero. Whether you are anxiously waiting for your destination vacation or hunkering down at home for a stay-cation, I’ve created a warm citrusy coffeecake to distract you from the misery. Think of it as a little ray of sunshine on your plate.
Orange Almond Coffee Cake
makes one 10-inch cake
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, divided
- 2 navel oranges
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups almond meal
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour or gluten-free all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum only if using gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 10-inch cast iron skillet.*
- Cut one orange into thin rounds. Peel the other orange with a vegetable peeler into long strips from top to bottom, avoiding the pith. Cut peeled strips into long, 1/8th-inch wide strips with a knife.
- Make a syrup by heating 3/4 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup of the orange juice in a sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil, add orange rounds, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add orange zest strips and continue to simmer until syrup has reduced by half and strips have softened, about 15 minutes more.
- While syrup is simmering, place sliced almonds on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5-7 minutes or until light golden, stirring once halfway through toasting.
- Remove orange rounds and strips from syrup with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Carefully pour 1/2 cup of the syrup into a pyrex measuring cup. Discard any extra (or save for a cocktail).
- Add the 1/2 cup of syrup back to the sauce pan with the heat on medium-low and add two tablespoons butter, stirring until melted. Stir in the almond extract and the Grand Marnier or Cointreau and remove pan from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, almond meal, regular or gluten-free all purpose flour, xanthan gum (if using gluten-free flour), baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and the cooled syrup mixture until combined.
- Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Add one cooked orange round (you can discard the extra rounds or save for another use) to the center of your prepared skillet or cake pan and scatter the zest strips and toasted almonds over the the bottom of the pan. Spoon cake batter (it will be thick) into pan and spread into an even layer.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. If cake begins to brown early (this happened at about 25 minutes for me) loosely cover with aluminum foil.
- While cake is baking, make a thin glaze by whisking the remaining 1/4 cup orange juice with 1 cup powdered sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan (it will still be warm) by placing a wire rack over top of cake and flipping over. Set rack on a baking sheet.
- Poke holes in cake all over with a toothpick. Spoon glaze over warm cake, rubbing in gently with back of spoon, until top is covered and glaze has drizzled down the sides.
*Baking in cast iron creates a wonderful, crunchy cake exterior while allowing the inside to stay incredibly moist and tender. I didn’t try this in a traditional cake pan, but if I did, I would butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan and follow all of the steps as written, running a knife around the edge of cake before inverting it onto a cooling rack.
recipe and photos via the aesthete and the dilettante