Mandarin Almond Cake

I needed a gluten free cake to make for my friend’s birthday, and I didn’t just want to use gluten-free flour in a regular recipe (don’t pretend!)

A work-friend of mine was adamant that this cake from Nigella Lawson was the one to make, despite the fact that it sounds so weird when you hear what goes into it! – basically, you boil 1 1/2 cups of citrus WHOLE for 2 hours, blend all of it together (rind and all), and add in almond meal, eggs, sugar, and baking powder. Sounds a little suspect… But he was totally right – the cake was devoured!

There were, of course, some deviations from the intended:

1) The recipe called for 6 eggs and I only had 4. I know there are about 800 different egg replacement options out there, many of which are nicely laid out by Once a Month Mom. I chose to make the flax seed eggs, and just add some extra baking powder, and it totally worked! The flax got super viscous (as you can kind of see in the picture) and you couldn’t tell in the final result (barely if at all).
I will tell you, though, that I made a second cake using only the flax eggs and extra baking powder and I think it turned out gross, as in, I’m bringing it to work today in the hopes that other people will be able to choke it down! So yeah, if you are trying to make this vegan, choose a different egg substitute.

2) I borrowed a way-too-big springform cake pan from my friend, which resulted in a very thin one-layer cake. Luckily my coconspirator had the brilliant idea to cut it into 4 and stack them so it looked like one giant piece! A little weird, but totally worked, and way better than the sorry flat original would have been.

We just iced it simply with confectioner’s sugar and water, and we were all set!

I would say that this is a cake for people with adult taste, meaning I wouldn’t make it for a child’s birthday, or for anyone who is expecting your standard vanilla or chocolate with butter cream. It is sweet and Spring-y, and the whole citrus gives it that “orange peel” taste that can be so good. Also, when you boil it for so long, a lot of the bitterness comes out in the water (speaking of which, I saved the water and now have orange peel-flavored water in my fridge. Any thoughts on what I should do with it??? It’s pretty bitter…)