Ground walnuts and almonds, orange zest and rose water flavor this unusual cake — unusual because it contains no flour. Instead it is leavened by beaten egg whites.
Preparation is easy, but unmolding the cake can be tricky because it also has no butter and tends to stick to the pan. The best solution is to use a springform pan and to line the bottom with foil or parchment paper. Once the cake comes out of the pan, and while it is still warm, it is drizzled with a sugar syrup flavored with rose water — delightful if you can get it — or with freshly squeezed orange juice. To enhance the cake’s appearance, you can decorate it with fresh mint sprigs, as shown in the photo, or with orange slices.
The cake keeps well and can be made a day or more before you plan to serve it. Because it is flourless, it ideal both for Passover and for people avoiding gluten.
The recipe will serve 6-8 people.
For the cake
1 cup sugar
1 cup (100 g) ground walnuts
1 cup (100 g) ground almonds
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tsp. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
fresh mint for garnish (optional)
For the syrup
1/2 cup (50 g) sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
1 tbsp. rose water or fresh orange juice
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C, gas mark 6).
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium bowl and the whites in a large bowl.
Add the sugar to the yolks and beat until the mixture is smooth and light yellow.
Stir in the ground walnuts and almonds.
Grate the skin of the orange (the zest) and add to the mixture. Cut the orange in half and squeeze through a sieve over the mixture. Add the cinnamon. Stir to blend.
Prepare your cake pan, preferably a 9-inch (23-cm) springform. Line the bottom with a round of foil or parchment paper. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with oil.
Now beat the whites until they form stiff peaks.
Using a rubber spatula, spoon about a third of the whites over the yolk mixture. Stir in. Pour the lightened batter over the remaining whites and gently fold in.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake is starting to brown and the center is firm. But check the oven after 20 minutes, as baking time varies with the size of the pan.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the syrup coats a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in the rose water or orange juice. Allow to cool.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, run a sharp knife around the edge. Invert onto a rack and remove the cake pan. The foil will stick to the top of the cake — peel off gently.
Transfer the cake to a serving plate with an edge deep enough to hold any extra syrup. Use a toothpick to punch a few holes in the cake. Drizzle the syrup over the cake.
Decorate with sprigs of mint or orange slices. Serves 6-8.
This recipe is adapted from three flourless cake recipes in Claudia Roden’s ‘The Book of Jewish Food‘.