I simply cannot convey to you quickly enough just how delicious this cake is. It is rich, smooth, soggy, gooey and moist, yet light and zesty. But it came about in an unusual way.
I had been having some problems with my stomach and the doctor advised that I try singling out foods in my diet that might be causing the problem. Willing to try anything and having read a lot about stomach problems and gluten intolerance I thought I’d try going a few weeks with wheat or gluten. At first I found it hugely restricting, especially when I realised I couldn’t even have a beer! But after a few days I found it enjoyable in a strange way, because from a keen cook’s point of view it forces you to push the boundaries. You can’t just say I’ll grab a sandwich or a wrap for lunch and you can’t rely on pre-made shop bought soups, sauces, cakes or biscuits so everything needs to be cooked from scratch.
Although I found my few weeks without wheat to have helped stop the bloating in the stomach I concluded it wasn’t the cause of my problems and happily reintroduced it into my diet (how did I live without crusty bread?!) But during the wheat-free weeks me and Will held a barbecue for his work mates (see post below) and I wanted to make a couple of desserts – one of which I would be able to eat despite not allowing myself gluten.
I used a recipe of Nigella’s that I had tried before for a ‘spiced chocolate cake’, which is in her Nigella Christmas book. I tinkered with the recipe to create a more summery chocolate cake, using orange instead of the spices, and it was a delight (Will told me his mates were talking about it for days after and one person has already asked for the recipe!). It also keeps really well and I was enjoying the left-overs for days after!
This is a perfect dessert for both the gluten intolerant but equally as delicious for all their friends. I urge everyone to give it a go.
Makes 10-12 slices
150g dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa solids)
150g soft, unsalted butter
6 large eggs
250g caster sugar
Zest of one large orange
4 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
For the almond topping:
Juice of an half an orange
15g unsalted butter
1tbsp caster sugar
50 flaked almonds
1. Take everything you need out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (gas 4) and butter a 23cm springform cake tin.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter together on a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Beat the eggs and sugar together until thick, pale and moussy. They should have at least doubled in volume or more. Gently fold in the ground almonds, the orange juice and zest, taking care not to lose any of the air in the mix.
5. Finally pour in the slightly cooled chocolate mix and stir in lightly. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, but which time the cake will be firm on top and still a little gooey underneath. It will rise right up in the oven and sink when it cools – don’t worry this should happen.
6.To make the topping put the orange juice, butter and sugar into a small non-stick frying pan and melt everything together. Let it sizzle for a minute or so until it begins to caramelise before adding the almonds. Stir everything together until the nuts start to bronze, tip the pan about every now and then to stop them sticking together. Remove and put on an oiled piece of greaseproof paper and allow to cool and go crispy.
7.Remove the outside of the cake tin, and the bottom of it if you can – I didn’t dare move mine and served it with the cake tin still on the bottom. Allow to coo fully. Scatter with the almonds and more orange zest. Serve with a dollop of whipped double cream.