About 15 years ago I wrestled an elderly Italian man at Flower Power for their only blood orange tree in stock. Well, actually I had acquired the tree and it was sitting on the ground next to me. He walked up, grabbed my tree and started to walk off. I hastily made a pursuit after this tree thief, with ‘hellos” and excuse “me’s”, then promptly grabbed it back from him. I explained that I was actually purchasing the tree, to which he responded that I had no idea what the tree was.
I paused for a moment, looked at him blankly, and replied, “yes I do, it’s a blood orange tree”. He looked back at me just as blankly and exclaimed “you know what it is!” with a smile on his face. He then happily let me have the tree and explained how he cultivated them back in his homeland.
In retrospect, I should have let him have the tree. I managed to kill it after about 2 years and it never matured enough to bare fruit. It would probably now be a majestic blood orange tree in his back yard, abundant with fruit.
The reason why I bought the tree in the first place, 15 years ago you couldn’t readily buy blood oranges, and I loved them. So hooray from me that blood oranges are currently back in season, as well as being readily available at the fruit shop.
It can be very hit and miss on how ruby they are inside. Some oranges look only slightly darker than your general orange, but others, when cut open, look like you are making them bleed as the red juice runs from where you have sliced. I personally love the colour and use them wherever I can when in season. Anywhere you would use a normal orange they can be substituted. I love cutting them up and adding segments to salads for that extra splash of colour. Sorbets, tarts and cakes are also where I make very good use of them. They also make a stunning marmalade.
This recipe is one that I adapted, it originally used mandarins. With blood oranges on hand and an excess of almond meal in the cupboard, it was the perfect time to try out this flourless cake.
Blood Orange Almond Cake
- 2 blood oranges 375g skin on, whole
- 6 eggs
- 240 grams (2 cups) almond meal
- 240 grams (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon heaped of baking powder
- icing sugar to dust
- thick cream to serve
- Place oranges in a large pot (with lid) and cover oranges with water and place lid on pot. Bring pot to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer for 1.5 hours.
- Drain oranges and set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Cut oranges in to quarters and remove any seeds. Transfer to a blender or food processor (skins as well) and process until well pureed.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
- Lightly grease and line a 22cm spring form pan.
- In a medium size mixing bowl, beat eggs and then add sugar. Continue beating until the mixture is pale and creamy. Mix in the almond meal, baking powder and oranges
- Pour mixture in to the prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until and inserted skewer comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack.
- Once cool, remove from pan and dust with icing sugar. Serve with thick cream.
The cake is extremely moist and deliciously orangey. I think next time I make this, I will cook some blood orange in a sugar syrup to accompany the cake.
Do tell dear Belly Rumbles reader, is there a time of year that you look forward to because a product is only available then?