I heart Ottolenghi

Blood Orange and Almond Syrup Cakes

Lately I have found myself a little obsessed with all things Yotam Ottolenghi. I was disappointed I didn’t get a chance to eat at one of his restaurants in London earlier this year but I just ran out of time. Instead I had to be satisfied with pressing my nose against the impressive front window of his amazing Islington restaurant.

It was nothing short of glorious – fluffy chocolate swirled meringues, dense dark brownies, enormous berry-laden muffins, perfect pear frangipane tarts, old-fashioned slices and all piled sky-high. For someone considering a career change to the food industry, it was a revelation. I’m not quite sure how to make it happen yet but I want to create windows displays like that, all day, everyday!

Blood Orange and Almond Syrup Cakes

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been following his blog and (finally) gave in and bought the book he co-authored with chef and business partner, Sami Tamimi. Jerusalem is really an ode to Yotam and Sami’s heritage and a completely delish one at that. Despite my initial guilt at buying yet another cookbook (I’m up to 75…), it’s set to be an absolute favorite. In less than a month I’ve made half a dozen recipes and some more than once.

If you love Middle Eastern food, then it’s a must. Filled with recipes from right throughout the region, it’s perfect fare for sharing in the warm sunshine. This is my take on their Clementine and almond syrup cake and according to my lovely team at work, it is completely yum!

Blood Orange and Almond Cakes

Blood orange and almond syrup cakes with Italian meringue (makes 16-18)

  • 200gm unsalted butter, semi softened
  • 380gm sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 4 blood oranges
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 280gm almond meal
  • 5 eggs
  • 100gm flour

Italian meringue

  • 2 egg whites
  • 165gm sugar
  • 60ml blood orange juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Lightly grease 2 x12 medium size muffin tins and set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on a slow speed, combine the butter, 300gm of sugar and citrus zests together (you don’t need to the cream the mixture, just combine until everything is mixed through). Fold through about half the almond meal.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, with the mixer running slowly. Add the remaining almond meal, flour and mix until smooth.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins (each hole should be about 2/3 full) and smooth the top. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. They are cooked when a skewer comes out clean but is still a little moist. Allow to cool in the tins.
  5. To make the syrup, combine the juice and the remaining sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the cakes generously with the syrup (I tend to brush them a couple of times). Allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. To make the italian meringue, use an electric mixer and on high, beat the eggs whites until they have reached soft peaks.
  7. Combine the sugar and blood orange juice in a small saucepan and over a hot heat, bring the syrup up to 115 degrees celsius.
  8. With the motor running on a slow speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Whip the meringue on high until it is thick and glossy (this is usually a good 2 minutes).
  9. Use a palette knife (or a piping bag if you want a more perfect result) to ice the cakes with the italian meringue. Lightly brown the meringue using a brulee torch.

These babies are best served either the day they are made or the next. Enjoy!