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Almond, Orange & Cranberry Gluten-Free Cake

This recipe is a re-visiting of the delightful Orange and Cardamom cake, which is both gorgeous-looking and very tasty, but wasn’t quite gluten-free. And as lovely as it was, it also didn’t have an entirely festive flavour, to my mind.

This little cake, studded with cranberries and crammed with orange-y goodness, just about screams I am festive! at you. It’s got just enough tartness to counter all those heavy Christmas dinners, yet is sweet enough that it doesn’t need icing. It’d go well with a little dollop of cream or creme fraiche, and it freezes perfectly.

Just be careful moving it from tin to plate. It cracks and breaks easily (she says, speaking from experience. Still tasted good, though …).

  • 1 large orange
  • 75 g / 5 1/3 tbsp / 2 2/3 oz butter, softened
  • 200 g / 1 cup soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 250 g / 2 ½ cups ground almonds
  • 60 g / ½ cup polenta
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp cardamom (optional)
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100 g / ¾ cup dried cranberries

For the syrup:

  • 60 g / 4 ¾ tbsp sugar
  • 100 mL / just under ½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • flaked almonds, lightly toasted, to decorate

Pop the orange in a saucepan with enough water to cover it, and bring it to a low boil. Cook until it’s soft. You’ll probably need to top up the water, and it’ll take about an hour. Allow to cool until you can handle it, then remove the pithy bit around the stem. Blend it in a food processor or blender until reasonably smooth.

Pre-heat oven to 160˚C / 320˚F. Butter a springform pan and line the base.

Beat the butter and sugar until it starts to change colour and look a little fluffy. Add the blended orange and beat until well-mixed. Add the vanilla, then the eggs one by one, beating just to combine in between each. Add the dry ingredients and beat to just combine, then fold in the cranberries.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth the top gently, then pop in the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until starting to pull away from the sides.

While it’s baking, combine your sugar and juice for the syrup. Keep popping back to stir it now and then, until the sugar is all dissolved.

With the cake out of the oven, leave it in the pan but pop it on a rack on an easy to clean surface or over an oven tray. Stab the top of the cake enthusiastically with a wooden skewer (an excellent way to relieve festive stress), then spoon your syrup generously over the whole thing. Use the lot – it’ll pool in places, but absorb eventually. Scatter almonds over the top so they stick to the syrup.

Once cool and set you can take it out of the tin and get it onto a plate. Be careful – it’s heavy and prone to breaking. However, any cracks are easily disguised with cream and a few extra almonds …

Serves 10.

A Toot Hansell Christmas Cracker recipe collection:

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