Chocolate orange cake - festive & naturally gluten-and-dairy-free

This cake is inspired (make that heavily inspired) by Nigella, Rick Stein and all the other chefs who offer a version of it. It's simple and pleasing so it appears often in baking books.

This cake naturally uses olive oil and ground almonds where butter and flour would be. Mediterranean and middle eastern sweet dishes often work on this basis. I am always delighted when something is unintentionally free-from - no dodgy, contrived substitutes.

It's very easy to make, and really orangey and delicious. It's a damp cake, not a fluffy one, mind. A small slice goes a long way. Well no, actually that's not true. And sadly it's not free from sugar, but it's also not excessive on that front. Let's just be grateful that it contains fruit, and no flour or butter. It's a good Christmas dessert if you're a G&D free zone.

You can also make this with poppy seeds, which go very well with citrus flavours. Just add a couple of tablespoons to the mix.



200g of orange fruit - about 2 clementines, or 3 tangerines, or 1 large orange.

1 lemon, zested

200g ground almonds

2 teaspoons of GF baking powder

100ml light olive oil

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

4 eggs

150g golden caster sugar

50g of dark chocolate chips/2 tablespoons of poppy seeds, optional

50g dark chocolate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Wash the oranges, and place in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 mins. Then allow to cool for a few minutes, cut them in half, remove any pips and blend until they become uniform mush - this includes the peel.

3. Then beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the vanilla, then the olive oil and mix well.

4. Finally, add the ground almonds and baking powder, along with the orange paste and the lemon zest, and chocolate chips if using. When well combined, pour the batter into a lined springform tin (20-23 cm is fine) or a bundt mould.

5. Bake for about 1 hour, but start checking from 45 minutes. When a knife comes out clean it's ready. It might take a little longer, depending on your oven. Leave to cool in the tin for at least ten minutes.

6. Melt the chocolate in a dish suspended over a pan of simmering water, and once liquid drizzle over the cake. You could add some flaked almonds for decoration, too.

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