I spent the beginning of last week in Rome, La Città Eterna (the Eternal City). One afternoon, I found myself waiting out a downpour at Casa & Bottega, an adorable little cafe off Piazza Navona. While the coffee was exceptional, it was the house-made almond-orange cake that brought a smile to my face. My mom and I returned again the next day for another taste, greeted warmly by the staff who recognized us on our second visit. The cake was missing from the display case, so I opted for a plate of biscottini – the cake has been on my mind ever since.
I flew home on Monday, and though the week has been filled with unpacking, laundry, and jet lag, I found a sliver of time yesterday to recreate the cake. Laced with fresh orange zest and juice, plus a splash of Nudo Mandarin Oil, this light cake bursts with citrus. Toasted ground almonds add a nutty flavor, and the crisp sugar and almond topping is simply irresistible. This almond-orange cake will always remind me of a few lovely afternoons in my beloved Italy.
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp Mandarin Oil (or substitute any fruity olive oil)
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp sliced almonds
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 8-inch cake pan with nonstick spray. Pulse almonds in a food processor until ground; whisk together with flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, beat orange zest, juice, oil, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Add egg and almond extract; beat well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula; sprinkle with almonds and turbinado sugar. Bake for 22 minutes, until cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.
Yield – 8 servings (serving size: 1 slice)
Calories – 198
Carbs – 25