Flourless Orange Cardamom Almond cake (Dairy-free, Gluten-free)

..a walk through a sunny orange orchard, breathing the zesty air!

It was a very special blessing to live so close to an orange orchard since I love all things citrus. The sight of all those bright sunny oranges never failed to cheer me up and truly California is sunnier with all those orange and lemon trees everywhere!
You would have seen many citrus desserts on this blog, but nothing quite like this cake, made with whole oranges, boiled in their thick orange skin and flour less and butter less to boot! Sounds pretty crazy right? I thought so too!

I was introduced to these at that bakesale we had taken part in. There was a sea of colorful baked goodies- iced sugar cookies in all shapes, gorgeous layer cakes under glass domes, cupcakes piled high with frosting.....but what caught my eye were these tiny clementine mini muffins with a very intriguing ingredient list: Whole clementines, eggs, almonds, sugar, baking powder. No flour? No butter?! Curious, I bought a bunch to share with friends and wow! was I rewarded! 

Each little bite was  incredibly tender and moist, more like pudding than cake, with a heady citrussy flavor and fragrance. I loved them so much I had to have the recipe which the lovely Andrea who baked for the sale, mailed to me. They are made in the food processor or mixie and are quite easy to make too. 

They are perfect to nibble on with a cup of tea or strong coffee ( in my case) and simply perfect for the Mad Tea Party today. What could be madder than a flour less, butter less cake I say ?!

Flour less Orange Cardamom Almond cake
Recipe Source: Since I was making it with oranges instead of clementines, I used the measurement of ingredients from here, but otherwise stuck to Andrea's email of Nigella Lawson's recipe from Claudia Rodin's Middle Eastern Orange Cake. Whew! 

  • 2 large oranges
  • 6 pods of cardamom ( optional- my addition)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder ( optional- my addition)
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 gr (2 1/3 cup) of *ground almonds / almond meal
  • 250 gr of sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons OR ¾ cup agave syrup + ¼ cup brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
*Note: I used almond meal from Trader Joe's but you can just grind almonds with or without their skins doesn't matter, until fine and powdery, but not too much or it will become oily)
Nigella says that you can also use an equal weight of clementines or lemons instead of oranges, if you are using lemons, increase the sugar to 1 and a half cups ( I haven't tried this) 

  • Boil the oranges ( whole, in their skins, do not cut or chop them), just about covered in water in a covered saucepan for 2 hours to cook them so that they won't taste bitter- this step is essential. If you want you can add the cardamom pods to the boiling water to infuse some subtle cardamom flavor.
  • Drain the water and leave for about two hours to cool. Since I ran out of time I left them covered in the fridge overnight and baked the cake the next day. 
  • Once the oranges have cooled, cut them open, remove any seeds and chop into rough segments, including the peel so don't throw the peel away! 
  • Preheat the oven to 190 deg C and butter and flour an 8 inch springform pan (I used a loaf pan and also used some of the batter to make 3 mini cupcakes) 
  • Blend the oranges and eggs well in a food processor.
  • Mix the ground almonds, sugar and baking powder in a bowl and add the orange mixture and whisk it all together with a whisk or a spoon until well mixed.
  • (If you like a stronger cardamom flavour you can also mix in 1/4 tsp of cardamom powder to the batter.)
  • Pour the batter in the cake tin and bake for 30 mins to 1 hour ( the baking time may vary depending on your cake tin as well as oven so check with a toothpick inserted in the center after 30 mins as its better to check early than burn the cake) *Note times for muffins below
  • Once cooled turn it out on a cake rack and dust with icing sugar or a sprinkling of ground or chopped pistachios or even almond slivers.
  • This cake is one of those that taste better and get moister with every passing day, so if you can save yourself some for the following or even third day, you will be amply rewarded. I stored it in a box on the counter for about 4 days, though if it is really humid where you are don't store it for longer than three as it is so moist it could get mouldy after that. 
  • If you are packing this, do make sure it has completely cooled ( even overnight) 

Andrea also sent the baking time guidelines for making: 

Mini muffins = 20 – 25 min.

Regular muffins = 25 – 30 min.

Giant muffins = 30 – 35 min.

Cakes or Loaves = 45 min. - 1 hr.

Serve with thick cream ( I liked it on it's own, especially with a strong cup of coffee) Enjoy! 
Oh and it's my birthday in a few days :) I can't help feeling excited about it, even though ( or probably because) I gave up counting it more than a few years ago :P 

Most of the excitement is just because I love having an excuse to bake and will be baking my own birthday cake, in fact the husband has strict instructions to NOT buy me a cake this year, and I could really use your ideas. I have some things in mind but am still open for ideas! After all what better excuse to bake a fancy, pull out all the stops cake and eat it too- than one's own birthday right? ( birthday cake calories don't count, really!) 

Some of the suggestion so far from some friends and awesome bakers when I posed the question on Fb:

Cool Lassie: "Red Velvet Cake is a grand option if you ask me."

Bindu Nair Varma ( no blog as of yet, but I live in hope :)  " I heart pineapple upside down cake but am not sure if it qualifies as special.The caramelized slices of pineapple taste amazing & is a huge family fave!"

Aparna: "Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake is a good one. Or Martha Stewart's Ruffle Cake or Caramel Cake."

Soma: "I had done a Syrian Walnut-Semolina Cake with Figs and Chocolate which I really heart. Don't know if it is special or the birthday cake kind, but it is so different. love Ina's Double Chocolate Layer Cake (Strong Coffee flavor which makes it sooooo good). and I LOVE fresh pineapple and whipped cream cake, black forest is an all time favorite and David Leb. Ginger Cake (not a Bday cake at all :(" 

Shabs: "Cherry crumble cake?...no decorations and icing as such and looks good on its own., same with blackberry peach crumble cake!"

All these suggestions sound soo good! Quite excited to try the ruffle cake which I also saw on Rosie's blog and loved.Do you have a suggestion for me? do add please, will link it in my sweet post tomorrow :) 


  1. hey rose this is such a fab bake- am bookmarking this and hope I can join your festivities before ur b'day- u go gal !!

  2. Thanks Priya! wow that was a very quick comment :)

  3. oh boy! I love oranges and orange cakes! What an interesting recipe - oranges with skin and all! A must-try!!!

  4. Advance birthday wishes, Rose :) And it's my birthday too in 2 weeks :P

  5. Love the new look of your blog Rose!Perfect Birthday Cake for me has to be Chocolate,yeah I am quite old-fashioned that way.Eager to see what you are gonna come up with.I like baking my own Birthday Cake too,makes me feel so special!

  6. oh my where is that orange orchard..looks so beautiful..

  7. If you love all things citrus, then try a lemon layer cake. Here's how I suggest hacking a base recipe (such as Dorie's perfect party cake or this one: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/01/lemon-drenched-lemon-cake/).

    1. vertical layers, not horizontal layers
    2. add a unique flavour like thyme and ginger or elderflower or lavender or anything else that suits your fancy (http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/dessert/lemon-yogurt-cake-with-gingerthyme-syrup-109936)
    3. use a lemon or citrus curd filling. make it mousse-like by adding whipped cream if you want to add fat ;)
    4. if you want it to give you a kick, make the filling espresso-chocolate flavoured. just make sure that it doesn't overpower the lemon.'

    Or...just bake a chocolate espresso cake and make a lemon filling! (still keep the vertical layer look though. email me if you want more details)

  8. Fabulous flavorful cake... I would suggest a Chocolate truffle cake...

  9. this is by far one of the yummiest recipes for cake :) Love the orange orchard pictures - I esp like the pic of the slice with your clean nailed thumb :))

  10. Oooh, that cake looks delicious. Thank you for the recipe! Thanks so much for inviting me to this enchanting tea party! I had a lot of fun! I hope you will visit my tea party as well!


  11. That orange orchard is simply enchating!! And what yumminess you have created! Mmmmmmmm.... The aroma must be amazing!

    Thank you for sharing a tasty part of Wonderland! ;)

    Love, A Fanciful Twist

  12. Scrapvamp and V, I am stunned by the creative tea parties on everyone's blogs and had so much fun on this my first visit, and cannot wait for next year!
    Now serving, Sarah, Nisha Jardeeling, Vimitha,Divya,thank you girlfriends :*
    Jardeeling that's fantastic!
    Nisha- the orchard was very close to my old place, sadly it wasn't open to the public, but that didn't stop me from walking by and taking pics and willing all those oranges to follow me home!

  13. Cake looks super delicious and absolutely gorgeous..

  14. Mmmm....I can smell the orange scented steam coming out of the pot.....I'll definately remember this!

    Thanks so much :D
    ...and an early Happy Birthday to you :)

  15. Sumanjit Kaur Tripathy-OBSESSIONJune 27, 2011 at 1:39 AM

    A very unusual recipe ...... Have never used oranges whole, that too boiled ..... Am tempted to try it soon.....

  16. Oranges are my favorite! Love that orchard and the cake looks divine.

  17. Oh yummy, I'll definately be trying this. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  18. Nice website! Greetings from Glory Foods.

  19. I was so excited about this cake. However, I just made it and perhaps the taste is acquired but it doesn't taste like oranges or cardamom. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.

  20. I am so sorry you didn't like it Anon. I am surprised you didn't think it tasted like oranges though. You did use the whole oranges with the skin right? also the flavours really intensify by the second and third day so hope you taste it again and let me know!

  21. Hi. Thanks; yes I did use whole organic, California oranges. I saw the original recipe called for blood oranges and no cardamom which I think I'd be willing to re-try it.

  22. Oooh blood oranges would be great! The original recipe by Claudia Roden uses oranges but you can use any citrus- blood oranges, clementines, even lemons though I haven't tried it I'm sure you'd need more sugar in that case. And if you like intense flavours wait till the second or third day to eat the cake!

  23. I made this cake today and tried reducing the amount of sugar to 3/4 cup because i find that most recipes i try are always too sweet for me. However, this is one recipe that needs the extra sugar because of the bitterness from the orange peels.

  24. I commented that 3/4 sugar wasn't enough. If you wait to eat the cake the next day, it actually is enough. The cake does get sweeter and more moist the next day.

  25. Thanks so much for trying it with lesser sugar! I am so glad it worked out on the second day. It only gets better from here :) If it is still not sweet enough, maybe a glaze? I would think a little marmalade heated with a little water and made into a sauce/syrup or some melted chocolate would make this even better :)

  26. Tried the cake as the flourless part intrigued me. It was def interesting with a pudding like texture. Made it in a 9x9 pan and took 45 mins to make. Since it had a little more bitterness than I liked,Imade a sinple syrup with orange juice and powdered sugar and poured over before serving. Nevertheless and easy and tasty cake er pudding:-)

  27. had something similar to this in a cafe the other day, they'd sliced it in half and spread choc hazelnut spread (Nutella) in between the layers and drizzled some on top with a sprinkling roasted hazelnuts. YUM!

  28. Hello!! Oh boy, this sounds delicious!! I'm wondering it's pomegranate season and I am new to cooking with cardamom...i thankfully stumbled across your website!! Excited to browse around at all if your recipes-your photos are beautiful! :)
    Do you think one large pomegranate or 2 could work as a substitution for oranges??

  29. Hello!! Oh boy, this sounds delicious!! I'm wondering it's pomegranate season and I am new to cooking with cardamom...i thankfully stumbled across your website!! Excited to browse around at all if your recipes-your photos are beautiful! :)
    Do you think one large pomegranate or 2 could work as a substitution for oranges??

  30. Your blog is very useful, I am truly to this blog which is specially for pistachio, I really appreciate your blog.

    Pistachio Orchard for Sale California

  31. Great recipe and tips. I can't wait to try this, thank you!!


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