Friday, February 7, 2014

Moroccan Orange and Almond Cake

I am so enamored by Moroccan food, well at least the ones that I've had on my trip to Marrakesh and Essaouira. The dishes that I remembered, couscous, tagine, harira soup and this light breakfast cake I had for breakfast in this B&B Riyadh were ones that stuck to mind.
The cake was light and airy, akin to a sponge cake, yet not overly delicate or crumbly. The taste was light, slightly sweet, and went so well with the marmalade. It was such an amazing breakfast experience. Certainly having it on a Moroccan Riyadh rooftop balcony overlooking the city of Marrakesh had a lot to do with this as well. 

After endless google searches, I first came upon the Moroccan yogurt cake recipe. While that was good, it wasn't quite the same as the one I had back in Marrakesh. It wasn't until I stumbled upon Mamatkamal's blog that I realized that maybe the almond element was what I was looking for.  Both the yogurt and almond+orange version are apparently referred to as Meskouta, but I'm not sure of the history or difference in back story, if anyone knows you are welcome to share your insight ^_^.
Anyways, here is the recipe!

Moroccan Orange and Almond Cake Recipe

Entirely adapted from Mamatkamal's Moroccan Cuisine Maroccaine blog
Makes 12 muffins or 1 one-liter-sized tube pan cake

All-Purpose Flour: 1 2/3 cup (spoon and sweep)

Ground almond: 3 TBSP
Orange zest: 2 medium navel orange
Orange juice: 4 TBSP (60 ml or equiv to 1/4 cup)
Baking powder: 3 tsp (or equiv to 1 TBSP)
Salt: pinch    
Cinnamon: pinch    
Large eggs: 4
Sugar: 225 ml (180 gr)
Condensed milk: 1-2 tsp (optional, see recipe below)
Oil: 3/4 cup (180 ml)
Honey: 4 TBSP (60 ml or equiv to 1/4 cup)
Orange blossom water:  1/2 tsp (you can find this in Middle eastern or Asian grocery store, but I omitted this because I didn't have time to go buy it at the time ^_^)                   
Sugar mixture to coat pan:
Cinnamon: 1 TBSP
Sugar: 1 TBSP

Almond flakes: 1 TBSP

  1. Preheat oven at 320°F (160°C).  Line muffin pan with muffin paper or lightly oil pan and sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture
  2. Sift flour, salt, ground almonds, baking powder and cinnamon 
  3. Beat together eggs, sugar and condensed milk until thick with electric mixer (this will take 10 minutes. I used a whisk and my hand, it was elbow grease to say the least!). This step seems to be the key to the sponge-like texture. I added condensed milk because according to Little Teochew's blog, it can serve as a stabilizer when beating the eggs and sugar (particularly because I'm beating the eggs by hand, I think you can probably omit the condensed milk, if you're beating using an electric mixer, since the original recipe does not require condensed milk).
  4. Gradually beat in oil.
  5. Add orange juice and honey.
  6. Stir in flour mixture in 3 batches, until smooth and no crumbles are visible. 
  7. Add orange zest and orange blossom water, then stir again.
  8. Pour batter into pan
  9. Bake for 20 minutes for muffin sized cakes (this is the size that I did).  
  10. For tube pan, sprinkle some almonds on top after the first 20 minutes, and then bake another 20 minutes (so total 40 minutes for a 1 liter tube pan)
  11. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then turn it on to cooling rack to finish cooling.
Can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top, and enjoy with some marmalade jam for breakfast!!

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