A simple orange and almond cake is a staple dessert made in homes all over Morocco. For this Orange Blossom & Honey Cake recipe I have used those classic ingredients to make a show-stopping layer cake.
For the cake
– 1 unwaxed organic orange
– 250g butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
– 300g caster sugar
– 2 tbsp orange blossom water
– 6 free-range eggs
– 3 tbsp vegetable oil
– 375g self-raising flour
– 240g ground almonds
– 1 ½ tsp baking powder
For the filling
– 600g ricotta cheese
– 300g Greek yogurt
– 100g icing sugar
– 1 tsp orange blossom water
For the candied oranges
– 200g caster sugar
– 2 unwaxed organic oranges, washed and thinly sliced into rounds
For the topping
– 60g honeycomb, chopped, plus some of the honey for drizzling
– 20g flaked almonds
– small handful of edible rose petals
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 and grease and line three 23cm non-stick cake tins with butter and baking paper. Put the orange in a small pan and cover with boiling water. Boil over a high heat 20 minutes until soft, then drain, chop and blend into a purée. Set aside to cool.
2. Place the butter, sugar and orange blossom water in the blender and blend for about 5–6 minutes until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending each time. Pour in the oil and blend again. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir. Gradually add them to the batter, blending each time until incorporated. Add the orange purée and mix well. Divide the mixture between the prepared cake tins and bake for 25–30 minutes. Leave to cool.
3. Tip the filling ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat together until smooth. It will be a little textured due to the grainy nature of the ricotta. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.
4. For the candied oranges, put the sugar into a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and pour in 450ml water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5–6 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the oranges, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes each side, turning with tongs. Remove from the pan, shaking off any excess syrup, and lay the slices out on baking paper to cool. Reserve the syrup.
5. Prick the tops of the cakes with a fork while they are still in the tins. Spoon the reserved syrup over them. Leave for a further 20 minutes, then remove from their tins and place on a wire rack.
6. To assemble, put one of the cakes on a cake stand, smooth over a third of the filling and top with a second cake. Add another third of the filling and top with the final cake. Smooth the remaining filling over the top of the cake, then finish with the honeycomb, candied orange slices, almonds and rose petals. Drizzle with honey and serve with another slice of candied orange per serving.
John Gregory-Smith is a food and travel, presenter and chef. He has written four cookbooks: Orange Blossom & Honey, Turkish Delights, Mighty Spice and Mighty Spice Express.
Having launched a spice brand into Sainsbury’s at age 24, John then moved into food writing and presenting and has worked all over the globe.
John currently lives in London and travels the world, visiting some of the most far-flung, remote destinations for inspiration. He has a particular interest in North African, Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean food.
Taken from Orange Blossom & Honey by Jon Gregory-Smith. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Martin Poole and Alan Keohane.