When it comes to flavored cakes, citrus is a favorite, especially as this subtle flavor combines well with any other fruit or nut to create a perfectly balanced yet delicately flavored cake recipe. In Middle-Eastern cooking, the cakes are kept simple but flavorful, and are topped with a sweet syrup, rather than slathering them with frosting. This makes them an attractive option for calorie-conscious individuals. This particular recipe comes from the Fine Cooking kitchen, and has been adapted from an original one featured in the cookbook called Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume, by Silvena Rowe [photo by Jonathan Lovekin].
I love the way they use Hazelnut flour to make this a gluten-free recipe. As for the syrup, I have had the traditional Basbousa, which is served with the Rose syrup on the top. but the fresh and aromatic flavors of Orange Flower make this a delectable cake, more like a Pound cake with a citrusy topping.
Orange flower water is a clear, perfumed distillation of fresh bitter-orange blossoms. It has been a traditional ingredient used often in Middle Eastern cooking, but nowadays, it is a popular choice for adding color and flavor to many desserts and cocktails, all around the world.
Orange Hazelnut Cake (Gluten-Free)
For the cake
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup superfine sugar
zest of 1 orange
2-1/4 cups hazelnut flour or meal
For the syrup
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar
2-1/2 tbsp orange juice
2-1/2 tbsp orange flower water
Grated zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 2/3 cup water to a boil. Add the sugar and orange juice and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in the orange flower water and orange zest.
In a bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale. Fold the hazelnut flour and the orange zest into the yolk mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff and glossy, then gently fold them into the hazelnut mixture.
Grease the loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Pour in the batter. Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the cake from the oven and evenly pour the cooled orange syrup over the top.
Cut into slices, and serve while it is still warm, for the best flavor.
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