Citrus is soon in season so I wanted to make a vegan orange cake but better! I came across the classic whole orange cake which is from the Mediterranean, Moroccan and Middle Eastern regions. Traditionally, whole oranges with their skin are boiled then incorporated into an almond meal mixture. The cake is often dense, very moist and suited for more mature palettes.
Years ago, my mum raved about this supposed whole orange cake. She first saw it on Masterchef and was willing to spend 3 or so hours on making it. I couldn't believe that the whole orange, including the peel and seeds were used in this dessert! My parents owned catering businesses and restaurants for over 30 years so they are very particular and fussy with their food. So when a cake wins them over, you know it's good!
I decided to revamp the cake by making it:
- vegan (of course)
- using mandarins instead of oranges
- no refined sugar
- no butter
- gluten-free (the cake is traditionally gluten-free so this was easy)
The traditional recipe uses only about 5 ingredients, one of them being eggs. There are definitely vegan substitutes for eggs but it's difficult to substitute them when the recipe relies heavily on it. I created the first version of this recipe and published it in 2017. Even though the cake worked well for me, some of my motivated and kind readers reported that it didn't work for them. I endeavoured to create a more reliable recipe which was not too moist and actually baked in the middle. Some changes I made include:
- Texture: I made the cake fluffier by using less liquid sweetener and more baking powder. I usually prefer using coconut sugar to sweeten my cakes as it makes it fluffier. However, I needed to use light-coloured sweetener such as maple or rice malt syrup to bring out the orange colour from the mandarin.
- Texture (again): I substituted some of the almond meal for white rice flour. Almond meal also makes a cake heavy whereas white rice flour is affordable and light in texture.
- Sweetness: I drizzled syrup on the cake after it was baked to compensate for the little amount of sweetener in the cake.
The final result is a moreish melt-in-your-mouth vegan orange cake with a hint of spice! I hope you enjoy this recipe!
This post and recipe was originally published on Rainbow Nourishments in November 2017. I have made amendments so the recipe is more reliable and simple.
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear about it! Comment below or, if you post it on social media, tag @rainbownourishments and #rainbownourishments!
Whole mandarin orange almond cake
- 1 (~100g) medium-sized organic mandarin
- 2 tbsp (24g) chia seeds
- 1 cup (100g) blanched almond meal
- ¾ cup (120g) white rice flour, or all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup (100g) any light-coloured sweetener, such as rice malt syrup or maple syrup, (you can use granulated white/raw vegan sugar if you prefer a fluffier cake)
- 3 tsp (13g) baking powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp cardamom seed powder
- ¼ cup (100g) any light-coloured sweetener, such as rice malt syrup or maple syrup, to taste
- ¼ cup (60g) mandarin juice
- 1 (~100g) medium-sized organic mandarin, peeled
- Rose petals and chopped pistachios
- Thoroughly wash the skin of the mandarin. Add around 2 cups (480 mL) of water to a small saucepan/pot and place whole mandarin in it. Boil the mandarin for 5 minutes then let it simmer covered for 1 hour. If the water runs out at any point, add more water so it covers half the mandarin.
- Remove the mandarin from the saucepan reserving the water. Squash the mandarin with a fork or spoon and remove any pits.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F).
- Add the mandarin, chia seeds and ½ cup (120mL) of the reserved mandarin water to a blender. Blend until very smooth. Add the puree to a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the cake ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined.
- Pour the cake mixture into a lined 15 cm (6 inch) cake tin. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer can be inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out clean.
- To make the syrup: Add the syrup and juice to a small saucepan. Heat and stir until they are combined. While the cake and syrup is hot, drizzle the syrup over it. Let the cake cool in the cake tin.
- To make the frosting: Drain the cashews and add to a high-powered blender with the rest of the frosting ingredients. Blend until as smooth as possible. Pour frosting into a bowl then refrigerate to slightly firm up. The frosting is ready when it is a firm buttercream texture.
- When the cake has fully cooled, use a serrated knife to cut it in half. Spread the frosting on the exposed surface then layer the other cake on top. Frost the whole cake as desired. Decorate the cake with mandarin segments, rose petals and chopped pistachios, or as desired.
- The cake can be kept at room temperature (at around 25°C or 80°F) for up to 5 hours. Alternatively, store the cake in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer (with the frosting but without the other decorations) for up to 1 month.