Orange, Almond and Semolina Cake

By now you’d know we love growing and picking things in this place, and just last week, we were at it again. This time, plucking bundles upon bundles of blood oranges and mandarins from the Australian Man’s grandmother (Nan’s) house.

Nan is Maltese. In 1963, she made the journey to Australia – husband and children in tow – to nestle new roots. Though she has adapted beautifully to Australian life, some traits run deep; one step into her garden, overflowing with Mediterranean flowers, fruits and vegetables, serves as charming evidence of her seaside rearing.

That’s me.

It is unusual for us to return from a dinner at Nan’s without arms full of something – often leftovers, and as the temperature warms, fruit and veg. I knew before we left just where that day’s crop would go. And so it did, directly into this teacake.

This cake is similar to my grandmother’s in its intense orange flavor, ease to make, and universal love by all who taste it. That said, this version, inspired by the flourless one popularized by Claudia Roden, requires the luxury of time.

Three whole oranges (or two, if they are quite large) are simmered about an hour, until very tender, then blitzed and mixed with a simple mixture of eggs and ground almonds. For a crumbier texture, I added fine semolina, and for a bit of kick, a drop of pure almond extract, cinnamon and cardamom.

Orange, Almond and Semolina Cake may be the most obvious name for this beauty. But it seems more appropriate, considering his Nan’s oranges and my Teta’s legacy, to rename it: Grandmother’s Cake.

Orange, Almond and Semolina Cake (or, Grandmothers’ Cake)
Makes one 10″ cake; inspired by Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Orange Cake. my Teta’s orange cake and the Maltese Nan’s homegrown oranges
3 medium-sized oranges
6 eggs, whisked
100g ground almonds
150g fine semolina
250g raw sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 small capful of pure almond extract
Pinch of cinnamon and cardamom
Rinse the oranges. Place them in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Then cover, reduce heat to a medium-low, and let simmer for 1 hour or until very soft. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled, blitz the oranges – whole – in a food processor of blender until smooth.
Preheat oven to 180C / 350F. Butter and flour a 10″ springform pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, semolina, sugar, baking powder and spices. Add the whisked eggs and orange puree, stirring until well combined.Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing over the top so the batter is flat. Check at 35 minutes by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. If a few moist crumbs appear, the cake is done.Audio pairing: Silvio Rodriguez, “Mujeres”
  • Casey Rose Frank

    Just the picture alone made me want to throw my breakfast bat on the floor, I want this for breakfast! And lunch. And dinner.
    I am a fan of Grandmother Cake, it’s a beautiful name.

    • Yasmeen

      Thanks my sweet. I only wish I was there with you to enjoy it together!

  • foodycatAlicia

    I love the Claudia Roden version – I think Grandmother’s Cake is the perfect name for it!

    • Yasmeen

      I think so, too :) I also love her version, it’s a classic.

  • Caramel et Fleur de Sel

    Grandmother’s cake looks so wonderful …. I love oranges and will have to try your recipe very soon.

    • Yasmeen

      If you love oranges, my guess is you’ll enjoy this cake. It’s zingy and intense from all the zest :)

  • Nuha

    Love the background of this cake. I’m bookmarking this for my next day off :-)

    • Yasmeen

      Nothing better than grandmothers, is there?

  • theviewfromGreatIsland

    I had the flourless cake on my roster for this week, now I may have to switch to Grandmother’s Cake! I agree with Casey, one look at the first photo and I was hooked!

    • Yasmeen

      Awesome, Sue, I hope it works well for you! I think the bit of semolina, almond extract (just a smidgeon since it’s quite strong), and dash of spice further intensifies it. Let me know how it goes! (I should add it also requires less cooking time than Claudia Roden’s — mine was done in 35 minutes rather than 1 hour, so just keep checking on it at the 35min mark).

  • GourmetGetaway

    Your cake looks so moist and delicious!!! Yum! I am jealous that your nan has blood oranges!!! They are so hard to find! I heard you may be participating in the cookie swap, I hope we get to swap some delicious treats :)

    • Yasmeen

      That’s the first I’ve heard about the swap, ha. I participated last year but had some trouble with the mail, so I haven’t jumped at it this year. Who of the Aussie bloggers is in it this time?

  • Hannah

    You’re so gorgeous! Alas, orange is the devil fruit, so I can’t quite say the same for this cake, except but aestehtically. :P Gosh, I sound picky these days! ;)

    • Yasmeen

      You know, I love that you swing by and visit anyway. We all have our lists of things we don’t like (long or short, nobody can deny that). And thank you, by the way :)

  • Tutti Dolci

    What a beautiful cake, I’m smitten!

    • Yasmeen

      Thank you! Let me know if you try it out.

  • Jennifer

    That’s one gorgeous cake. Apart from chocolate cake I think orange cake would have to be my favourite.

    • Yasmeen

      Thanks, Jennifer! I agree that orange is high on the favorites list. I’m excited to participate in your Sweet Adventures Blog Hop this weekend, by the way :)

  • Kiran @

    Love semolina in desserts. It gives a great bite and texture :)

    • Yasmeen

      I agree Kiran! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Daisy

    Ohhh I’ve made a very very similar cake except mine doesn’t have semolina :) I think I’m gonna try hehe ~ what is semolina made out of again? So nice to have an Australian nan hehe

  • keishua

    this looks really interesting. wonder if clementines would work? i am bad about following baking recipes…yep…interesting things happen.

  • Heidi – Apples Under My Bed

    This looks like heaven. I will absolutely be making this :) Gorgeous pic of you too.
    Heidi xo

  • Simi

    Wow, your cake looks amazing and sounds delish! You mentioned to “blitz” the oranges..does that mean you simmer the whole unpeeled orange and then mixed with eggs and ground almonds?