Have you ever been given a gift and not appreciated its value fully?

Back in 1997, my foodie sister gave me a house warming gift.  A copy of Stephanie Alexander’s “The Cook’s Companion“.  It was a well thumbed book in my sister’s collection, and she was hopeful I would find it valuable, too.

It traveled with me to Boston where it sat mostly on a shelf for five years, and then returned back home to Brisbane.  Then one day, ready for some recipe inspiration, I bypassed by my usual baking books and cracked The Cook’s Companion open.

I could not believe what I had missed.  This bright orange book contained absolute gold.

Since, I have referenced it frequently.  Like my sister’s original edition, it is now truly well thumbed – so really, about time I share a recipe from this treasured reference.

A friend at work actually pointed out this recipe as an option for my ‘Allergy-free baking‘ month.  She had seen the recipe posted at Peter’s always mouth-watering blog, Souvlaki for the soul.

If you are a fan of the rich, intense flavour of orange marmalade you should try this cake.  There is no hiding the essence of the core ingredient here.  It is bold and concentrated.  The cake is very moist and a delicate slice (or two) is delicious served with a coffee or tea for a bit of an afternoon pick me up.

{ Claudia Roden’s Middle Eastern Orange Cake } From Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion

* Ingredients *
2 large oranges, washed
6 eggs, beaten
250g ground almonds
250g sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

* Directions *
Boil oranges, barely covered with water, in a covered saucepan for 2 hours. Allow to cool, then cut open, remove pips and chop roughly, including the rind. Preheat oven to 190°C and butter and flour a 24cm springform tin. Blend oranges and eggs thoroughly in a food processor. Mix ground almonds, sugar and baking powder in a bowl, then add orange mixture and whisk to combine. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour. If cake is still very wet, cook a little longer. Cool in tin before gently turning out.