Sunday, 23 October 2011

Soffice torta all'arancia ( Almond and orange cake)

It seems like a very long time ago, the day we went to Torchiara to take photos of the pretty town. I had noticed, the previous evening, that most houses in the Piazza were still adorned with the Tricolore (our flag!) from the celebration of Italy's 150 years as a Nation, and the Piazza itself looked like the set of a movie! So pretty!

Pretty, very, very... quiet Torchiara!

Next day, we made a special trip, only to find that every flag, except two, had been taken down. It was a very hot day, and when I say hot, I mean... boiling hot! As we stood by a big terrace, right on on top of the town, we couldn't fail to notice the incredible amount of orange and lemon trees. In Campania you get the best oranges and the lemons are just... spectacular!
I have a tiny orange tree, in my Italian garden. It's little, tiny, in fact, and straggly and reminds me of Charlie Brown's little Christmas tree. My orange tree only has 5 leaves and is refusing to grow!
Thinking about my days in the sun, today I made a cake ( not what I'm best at!) I do wish I had had some of the Italian oranges I bought in Summer, but I had to use what I found at the shops! And I wondered whether the almonds I used once grew in Italy, or Greece, or some other sunny Mediterranean country.
This is the cake I made. I couldn't believe that the "loose" mixture could have made a light and fluffy cake, but... it did!

I crystallized the rose petals. NOT THE ROSE!

And here is how I made it!

Soffice torta all'arancia
(Almond and orange cake)
6-8 servings
200 g ( 7 oz) peeled whole almonds
or: 200 g f( 7 oz) finely ground almonds
3 oranges (use small ones)
4 medium eggs
50 g ( 2 oz) cornflour
150 g ( 5 oz) sugar
25 g (1 oz) cane sugar (Demerara) for the tin
pinch of salt

Before you start, you need to grind your almonds ( I used a small mixer, but next time I will buy ground almonds!) Next, squeeze your oranges and collect the juice in a cup.
Separate the eggs, then beat the yolks with the sugar till you get a really smooth, pale, zabaione-like fluffy mixture (I love it!) The egg whites need to be placed in a separate bowl, with a pinch of salt, and beaten, till they form a light, airy mixture.
You are now ready to assemble all the ingredients. Pour the orange juice into the bowl, with the egg yolk zabaione, followed by the cornflour. Mix together with a spatula, then incorporate the whisked whites, by folding very gently.

1) grinding my almonds 2) blending egg and sugar 3)whisking the egg whites 4) in the tin!

Grease a 22 cm cake tin, then dust with a generous amount of cane sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven (200 C.) The mixture is very liquid, but, strange enough, it makes a light sponge!
Serve cold, maybe with whipped cream or lovely yogurt or yummy creme fraiche!

Looks beautiful from above

My cake is delicious, but next time I will add some orange zest to make it more orangey and I will buy finely ground almonds for a crunchy, dry base!


  1. Oh Anna! You are an artist! This Soffice torta all'arancia looks spectacular! I am a big fan of Italian tarts and cakes. They are always decorated so lavishly in all colors. I will try your recipe but also here I won't get the oranges you wrote about! We used to spend our holidays in Liguria and there was a lemon tree. They tasted so much different to the ones one gets here in the shops. We always took a few home and whenever we smelt on it we were taken back to that garden there. Thanks for your comment today. I am glad that you like the menu on the mirror idea. By the way: Did you manage to preserve the mushrooms today? Start well into the new week. A presto! Christa

  2. Well, Christa... Yes, I "did" preserve the mushrooms, and I got four or five different kinds, for size and texture. Some are as tiny as a green lentil, others are umbrella shaped, some are brown and small like porcini and... they look beautiful in the big jar and taste delicious! I only ate a few and "hid" the rest outside, where I can't get to them! I put lots of chillies, garlic, fresh parsley and peppercorn in the jar... yummY! Lovely for out Christmas Day antipasto! My sister is now preserving vegaetables, too, just remembering how our mother used to. I also preserved aubergines, Christa! I'm having so much fun shopping. And I bought two jumper dresses! Red and black.

    Try the cake, Christa, but make sure you use ground almonds (buy them already ground)and not too big oranges and I would also grate some orange rind for a sharper flavour.

    I enjoy reading your posts, Christa, as you allow us to be a bit nosey... and come into your lovely home. I am inquisitive and cannot resist a hole in a fence!

    That mirror menu` will be adopted on Christmas eve. What did you use for writing on the mirror?

    Buona serata... I bet the venison was DELICIOUS!



  3. Hello Anna,
    Hooray, I can get back to writing on blogger! It wouldn't let me over the weekend. I ought to be getting ready for the day but couldn't resist saying a quick 'hello'!
    I love the look of your cake. I must give it a try, I tend to stick to variations of the basic sponge mixture but as my son Sam loves fruity tasting cakes, I will be brave! I usually make lemon drizzle for him but this sounds so delicious and looks so lovely. Thanks for your comments on my blog, I had to just write a quick general 'thank you' to everyone. It was lovely hearing how excited Emmie sounded when she told me!. Have a happy week,Jane xx ( Signora dei Libri)

  4. Jane,

    I love lemon drizzle cake, too, though I don't really eat sweet things. I have a few projects for Christmas, using cream and choux buns. I just wish I had more time and a massive freezer, so I could store all my lovely goodies!

    I want to also experiment with some of the sweets we used to have in our house, in Italy, when I was growing up and some stuff from Campania, too. It's a kind of ongoing "research" or project, if you can call it that!

    A happy week to you, too, "Signora dei Libri!"



  5. Anna, your pictures are so incredibly vibrant and I wish I were there to eat that cake, you make it sound so simple! I love reading you... Have a lovely day and many cat kisses to you : ) CIAO

  6. MrsLittleJeans,

    Yes, I "make" my pictures vibrant, in order to convey that sense of warmth and light which is so typical of Italy! Thank you for noticing!

    I so love your cats... those little paws and little faces and noses, and all the things they get up to! Just wonderful!

    I'm glad you like my cake. I considered it a miracle, as I never really thought that mixture without flour would make a solid "thing!"

    Ciao and a kiss to your cats on their lovely little noses!



  7. Carissima Anna - I am so touched by your words! It all sounds so very fantastic! Real Italian! Preserving all these vegetables and mushrooms for antipasti... ahhh... ohhh... best ever with a glass of Prosecco isn't it? I am sure you will show us a plate with all the goodies on there... PLEASE!
    I have been browsing through some of your bruschetta recipes! Be assured I will try some of them. Exactly right for using my liquid gold for (olive oil). Thank you!
    For the menu on the mirror I bought an "edding 4095 window marker". It is no problem to wipe out the written text when you do not want it anymore. Let me know if you have difficulties in finding one - I'll be glad to post one to you (of course as a little present). Promised? Salve!

  8. Ciao Anna!
    Conserverò la tua ricetta per la stagione delle siamo quasi!!!
    Un abbraccio!

  9. Ciao Christa!
    I know... I'm doing a lot of "old Fashioned" things, which I never did before (preserving things, making my own guanciale and pancetta, which got binned, as someone thought I had rotting meat in the fridge, and remembering dishes I saw my mum make when I was little.) My husband calls me the "Renaissance woman!" which is a very nice way to describe me! It's funny how my sister is doing the same, only she can use really good vegetables, grown outside, in the sun. I kind of feel I have a "mission" to accomplish!
    I will post images of all the vegetables I preserved. They all look beautiful and translucent, just like little gems trapped inside jars!

    I'll try to find a window marker and, if I can't, I'll let you know!

    Thank you, Christa and... sogni d'oro!


  10. Hey, ciao Michela! Chi non muore si rivede! Hai ragione, l'inverno e` la stagione delle arance, volendo essere precisi, pero`, ormai, le si puo` comprare in ogni stagione! Pero` e` vero, in Italia e` una frutta invernale.

    Fatti risentire.

    A presto


  11. Hi Anna, I think I would really enjoy that cake, thanks for the recipe! I love cakes and sweet things, too much really! When I go out to a restaurant, I decide what to eat by chosing the dessert first. I know it's very bad!

    Thankyou so much for your lovely comments, and I see you bought a new red dress.Red is my best colour, but I actually do not own one red thing at the moment. I will have to remedy that! Your preserved vegetables and mushrooms sound lovely. Once on a trip to Italy, we were invited into the home of an Italian/American couple who served us anti-pasti and I remember tiny goats cheeses preserved in oil. They were lovely. I am glad you are a 'renaissance woman' keeping your heritage alive. I look forward to when I can buy a copy of your book! Lots of love, Linda x

  12. Linda, this blog does miracles for my ego! Wow! I like it! Yes, I bought a red jumper dress. Red cheers me up, but I really am a monochrome kind of person (not too brave- always buy black! But I love it!)
    You gave me an idea: preserved goat's cheese! I can buy the little French ones or Welsh goat's cheese, even better! I wonder if you can preserve mozzarella in oil and fresh basil? What a bomb! But it would probably work and you could use it for insalata caprese!
    I love the "Renaissance" thing, Linda! He ( my husband) makes me feel so special and a compliment coming from him, to me... is the best thing in the world. He is a very gifted, special man. I am so lucky!

    I see I will have to show you my preserved bits and pieces, won't I? Maybe I could post my Christmas eve antipasto, so you can see what I do with my vegetables. But you have given me an idea... preserved goats cheese... maybe with a bit of red chilli pepper here and there, black and red peppercorns, fresh Italian parsley or fresh rosemary. Thank you, Linda!

    Love to you, too. I love your blog and I expect lots of lovely floral "stuff" for Christmas! Get busy, Linda!



  13. Ha ha! Anna mi fai morire dal ridere!
    Ho passato una settimana dalle tue parti...UK near London! Ecco perchè sono diventata un po' stranger :-)

  14. Anna tesoro! Thank you very much for you comments! I know how eccentric Italians can be after all my best friend is Italian and I have spent many, many days in Italy! It is exactly what I love! When the Italians go the bar or to the "spiaggia " then it is like in the theatre! Fantastic and so lively! Anna, I know you have earned every rose and lily your VERY eccentric husband offers you and also every other nice thing! It is beautiful to know one is loved and to know there is no better love than the one has!
    How is your garden? Did you manage to finish everything? All the bulbs in the soil waiting for the first warm days in 2012 to wake them? How do you decorate your garden in wintertime and for Christmas?
    I hope you have finished your boring tasks for today and your evening is joyful! A presto! Christa