almond-orange cake

November 8, 2012

in Cakes & Tea Cakes

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.

Almond-Orange Cake
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

Topping
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

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57 Comments

1 Valerie November 8, 2012

Welcome home, Laura! I hope the California weather isn’t too much of a change from what you experienced in beautiful Italy. :)

I’m already in love with this cake! How is that even possible?! (It’s simple elegance and the use of almonds and citrus must have something to do with it.) Gorgeous!

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2 Claire @ Claire K Creations November 8, 2012

I love any cake that can transport you to Italy! Loved following your adventure on Instagram.

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3 Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet November 8, 2012

Simple yet special and festive. What a lovely cake, Laura!

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4 Kate@Diethood November 8, 2012

Lord, just reading your description of the cake made me drool…wonder what will happen if I took a bite! :)

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5 the wicked noodle November 8, 2012

You always amaze me with your ability to recreate baked goods at home! I love the citrus and nut combo in this cake!

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6 Patty November 8, 2012

Welcome Home!!! I enjoyed following your Instagram photos;-)
I would have been dreaming about this cake too, love the almond orange flavors, lovely recreation;-)

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7 Jenn November 8, 2012

Awesome story and memory :) This looks wonderful!

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8 Rowena @ Apron and Sneakers November 8, 2012

Yum! Your cake looks absolutely divine! I have a feeling it looks and tastes even better than the one you had in that bar. What’s the name of the place? :-) I hope you had a fabulous time in Italy!

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9 Carol | a cup of mascarpone November 8, 2012

Laura, thank you for sharing a bit of Italy with us. Hope you had a wonderful time! {that was a dumb statement!} The cake sounds incredible!

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10 Cristina November 8, 2012

What a beautiful cake. I absolutely love the ingredients in it, although I always have a challenge finding fruity/citrus olive oil. Looking forward to baking it up too! :) Thx for sharing.

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11 Julie @ Table for Two November 8, 2012

almond and orange is a real comforting flavor combination to me. my mom used to buy that flavor of bread at the market when we were younger. it’s SO good. i love that you recreated this cake and shared it with us to give us a little slice of Italy!

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12 Lisa {AuthenticSuburbanGourmet} November 8, 2012

Sounds like you had a terrific trip (despite the circumstances you went there for). This cake sounds amazing. I can just imagine a slice with a wonderful cup of coffee . Pinning now.

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13 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 8, 2012

What a gorgeous cake-I love citrus flavoured cakes, they lighten a rich cake beautifully! :D

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14 Cookin' Canuck November 8, 2012

How wonderful that you spent some time in Rome! This cake looks fantastic…something that would be perfect with my afternoon tea.

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15 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) November 8, 2012

That is a great cake and even better memories! I was loving seeing pits and pieces of your trip on Instagram!

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16 Jen L | Tartine ans Apron Strings November 8, 2012

Laura, I love Nudo! I just used their Mandarin oil to marinade my shrimps!!!! Anyway, anything baked with almonds, I’m in! Hmmmm, I can smell the sweet combination of almonds and oranges now…Kinda reminds me of the south of Italy – or even Morocco!

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17 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef November 8, 2012

A dessert that can take you on holiday with one spoonful is my kind of cake. I’m sure coming home was tough. I love Rome too.

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18 Sandra's Easy Cooking November 8, 2012

Welcome back Laura! Glad to see you already baking. This cake looks wonderful and perfect to refresh your memory of amazing trip. I love your pictures!

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19 Liren November 8, 2012

Welcome home! I can imagine how hard it must be to reenter reality after your trip, but, this sure does soften the blow. What a lovely souvenir – the cake looks SO good!

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20 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious November 8, 2012

Isn’t it amazing as to how much laundry gets piled up during trips?

Anyway, I’m so glad you made it back safely. And I’m also thrilled that you recreated this! Jason and I probably won’t make it out to Rome until our honeymoon but at least this amazing cake will hold me over! :)

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21 Jessica | Portuguese Girl Cooks November 9, 2012

Welcome home! This cake looks absolutely wonderful. I love the combination of citrus and almonds, always a winner.

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22 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective November 9, 2012

Love this cake and THAT CUTE TEA TOWEL!!

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23 Jessica@AKitchenAddiction November 9, 2012

Beautiful cake! Sounds wonderful!

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24 Jen @ Savory Simple November 9, 2012

What a beautiful cake, Laura! I loved all of your pictures from Italy.

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25 Terra November 9, 2012

This cake is really beautiful! What a perfect cake to enjoy with my morning coffee:-) I need to try fruity olive oil now, sounds fabulous! Hugs, Terra

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26 The Café Sucré Farine November 9, 2012

Laura, so glad you’re home safe and sound. I love how traveling is so inspirational in a culinary sense. This cake looks wonderful and just looking at it, I’m imagining that I’m in Rome too! :)

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27 Suzanne November 9, 2012

Glad you made it home safe and sound. The cake would be on my mind too, I adore citrus in my cakes and with almonds even better. I look forward to some more of your baking throughout the holidays. Have a great weekend Laura.

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28 Deb November 9, 2012

So glad to hear your trip home was uneventful! Welcome home!
I am fond of easy, simple to prepare deserts that have stellar flavors.
A touch of citrus is a vibrant salute to autumn and paired with almonds is just sublime!

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29 Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts November 9, 2012

Welcome home! What a gorgeous cake. Can’t wait to see what else you come up with after your trip!

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30 Marina@Picnic at Marina November 9, 2012

That almond cake screams Italy to me! Welcome back! :)

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31 Jenn and Seth November 9, 2012

sounds like a wonderful trip!! and this cake is gorgeous! i’ll take a piece (or five!) please :)

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32 Ilan November 9, 2012

Talk about a tasty looking cake! That looks seriously awesome. Yummy.

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33 Averie @ Averie Cooks November 9, 2012

Welcome home! And that mandarin orange oil in this pretty little cake sounds just amazing!

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34 Magic of Spice November 9, 2012

Welcome home Laura! This cake is just stunning and I am sure just as beautifully delicious!

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35 Lora @cakeduchess November 9, 2012

That tea towel is so pretty and cakes like this are my favorite. I love Rome and wish next time we go to spend more time there. A few days is not enough-maybe a month is better:) ben tornata xx

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36 suzanne Perazzini November 9, 2012

I’m sure it is great to be home but the dreaded unpacking and washing is such a pain. There are many things that remind me nostalgically of Italy and not least of all their cakes. This looks lovely.

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37 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com November 9, 2012

Welcome back and what an inspiring eye candy from your nostalgic EU trip :)

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38 claire @ the realistic nutritionist November 10, 2012

I love and miss Italy so much!!! this cake is amazing.

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39 Liz November 10, 2012

Gosh, I’m so impressed that you could recreate this amazing cake…and while jet lagged to boot! I’d love a slice with my tea…I’d close my eyes and imagine I was sitting near a fountain on the Piazza Navona….

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40 Mercedes November 10, 2012

Your trip sounds as beautiful as your cake looks! I love how light and airy this cake looks and sounds!

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41 Rachael {SimplyFreshCooking} November 10, 2012

This is gorgeous and looks totally scrumptious!!

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42 Nancy/SpicieFoodie November 10, 2012

Hi Laura,
I hope you had a great trip…of course you did it’s Italy:) Glad you were able to recreate the cake. It looks like the perfect accompaniment to a strong coffee. Thanks for sharing:)

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43 Nami | Just One Cookbook November 10, 2012

Welcome back Laura! Sorry it took me a while to get here but I’ve been busy preparing for my upcoming trip (and I wish I’m going to Italy but not…). I have enjoyed your some pictures on IG/FB and looks like you had an amazing trip. Will we hear more about it (def hope so!)? You really know how to recreate food and bake as you like. I can do that for cooking but I wonder how you do it for baking! This must be really delicious. Also I love the plate and the super cute cloth… perfect for this fabulous cake! Hope jet lag is better by now and all the laundry is done. I’m not a fan of post-international trip…argh…

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44 JJ @ 84thand3rd November 10, 2012

What a lovely sounding cake! Your description brings back memories of a sunny day sitting in Piazza Navona :)

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45 Karen (Back Road Journal) November 10, 2012

I’ll love making your almond orange cake and I will pretend that I’m in your cafe in Rome. It sounds perfect…I love simple desserts like this.

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46 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen November 10, 2012

The mandarin oil sounds fantastic!

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47 anna November 10, 2012

mmm i love how delicate european sweets are. and i really respect a citrus cake that has a strong citrus flavor! it seems like so many just hint at the fruit, and cover it all up with sugar. i’d love to try this.

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48 ATasteOfMadness November 10, 2012

Oh you are making me very jealous. My dream is to go to Italy. One day…
This looks fantastic by the way!

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49 Gourmantine November 11, 2012

I envy a little your trip to Rome… Italy is indeed a food heaven and this is a stunning cake :)

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50 Lizzy (Good Things) November 11, 2012

Dear Laura, welcome home. I love the sound of this cake… your recipes are always so inspiring… and your travels… wow!

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51 Susan November 11, 2012

What a perfect, light dessert. I love the combination of orange & almond.

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52 Rosa November 12, 2012

A wonderful flavor combination! That cake must taste divine.

Cheers,

Rosa

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53 roz November 12, 2012

Laura, this cake has taken me straight back to Italy. The citrus-flavored tortas were DIVINE! I love this recipe and have been wanting an authentic one since I first bit into these Italian tortas during my trip. Welcome home and PS: we have the same Villeroy and Boch pattern of china/tableware. :-D !

Ciao,
Roz

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54 Laura @ Family Spice November 15, 2012

Just gorgeous! You are totally making me jealous about your trip to Italy. One day I hope to go… one day! Wonderful flavors here.

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55 Baker Street November 22, 2012

Welcome back, Laura! What a gorgeous cake! Almond and orange are so beautifully paired!

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56 Bryce March 6, 2013

i just had (against my better judgement) 2 SLICES of this delicious concoction! Well done Laura!

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57 Susy March 11, 2013

Hi Laura
Just wanted to thank you for the beautiful Almond Orange cake that I got on my birthday. It was not only gorgeous, it also tasted sooo good. My husband and my daughter loved it!

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