Egyptian and Greek Inspired Almond Orange Pound Cake (Gluten-Free and No Sugar Added)
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
During this time of high caloric temptations, can you have that cake and eat it too with zero regrets? Absolutely you can! Today’s recipe features a Greek and Egyptian inspired low-carb cake that has no added butter, oil or sugar, yet still has the moist texture of a pound cake. One easy to find ingredient that helps achieve this magic is the almond. In the Arab world, almonds are usually sweetened with honey, then enrobed in filo dough in baklava style confections, or added to Turkish delight style sweets. The Greeks however, also use the almonds to make flour, creating crumbly cookies and moist cakes. While almond flour has grown in popularity today, the Greeks have been using this baking staple since the 19th century and the benefits are numerous. Almond flour is gluten free, low glycemic, and is loaded with protein and fiber, unlike conventional white flour. Because almond flour has healthy fats, there is no need to add that much extra fat to enhance the flavor of desserts. Hence why this pound cake doesn’t need a pound of butter for that rich flavor and texture.
This cake gets a Middle Eastern touch with orange blossom water. Orange blossom water enhances the flavor of the cake, but has a myriad of uses outside the kitchen as well. If you have too much left over, orange blossom water makes a great skin toner and moisturizer, soothes sunburns, and even conditions hair. The scent of orange blossom water has a calming effect, great for people who suffer from insomnia. Just drop a small amount on your bed sheet to let it take effect as aromatherapy, but make sure to sprinkle it on a small corner of your sheet as orange blossom water can stain certain fabrics.
This almond orange cake is actually very popular in both Egypt and Greece. In Greece this cake is called “pantespani,” while the Egyptians add cardamom spice to their version. You can add or omit this spice depending on what country you are in the mood for at the moment.
To see a video tutorial of how to make this cake, click on the link below:
Almond Orange Pound Cake
2 large oranges
2 teaspoons orange zest, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups of almond flour (not almond meal as it is too grainy)
1/2 cup powdered erythritol sweetener – or 2/3 cup regular sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water
Optional add a half a teaspoon of either cardamom or nutmeg
¼ cup confectioners sugar, or confectioners erythritol plus 1-2 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel the oranges, and place them in a saucepan of water. Make sure there is enough water to cover the oranges. Add a cinnamon stick and boil the oranges. Reduce heat to a simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, In a food processor, whip the eggs until frothy. Add 1 ½ tsp orange zest, vanilla extract, orange blossom water, and optional cardamom or nutmeg and mix well. Once the oranges are cooked, drain and dry them, then cut into pieces and add to the egg mixture. Process and puree the oranges with the egg mixture until well blended. Add the baking powder and almond flour and pulse until combined. The batter should be more watery than average cake batter. Line an 8 or 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray or butter it. Pour the cake batter into the pan, then bake for 45 minutes. It should be lightly browned, and pass the toothpick test for doneness in the center of the cake.
For an optional glaze, combine ½ tsp orange zest, the sugar or erythritol, and add 1 tbsp of water at a time until you get the desired consistency. Spread on cake when cooled and serve.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East and cookbook author. For more authentic and classical Middle Eastern recipes, you can now purchase her brand new cookbook: “Feast in the Middle East, A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine” by clicking HERE:https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/2189
To check out her cooking video tutorials and other recipes follow Blanche on
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