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Triple Orange Cake

It is a cake anecdote! The kind of thing you see on a sitcom though somewhat more protracted. I originally set out to make this cake two weeks ago then realized that I did not have the necessary ingredients. Namely tofu. Of the silken variety. Something I have not cooked with before. It took me an hour to find. 

Triple Orange Cake  Image from

I should have seen that as an omen.
Once I got it home, life kept me busy enough that I did not have the time to try the recipe till last weekend. On Saturday night, I finally boiled the two oranges and the single lemon the recipe required. But because I had not read that I needed to cool the fruit after boiling, I had to put it off until the next day.

Only to find that I did not have almonds. We always have almonds! We have hazel nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and even pine nuts... but for some obscure reason the almonds that we ALWAYS have evaporated!

So there was another some of day delay while I obtained almonds. Today, I decided I was making my final stand. I was either making this cake or I was going to die trying.

So I took out the oranges and the lemon, sliced them and pureed them in the food processor, setting the almonds to toast in the mean time. So far so good. Until that is, I got to grinding the almonds. Normally I gather the almond by the handful, stick them into the spice/coffee grinder and set to frappe. And the coffee grinder turns out beautiful almond meal.

Fine, powdery and perfect. However, today... for some obscure reason the grinder was set to the "nut butter setting" and there was no way I was going to convince it that I wanted meal not butter.

And with only and on off switch to work with I had to awkwardly pulse and shake at the same time to even get close to what I wanted. Dancing the Watusi to the pulsing beat of a coffee grinder is just not my idea of a good time. Of course, just as I was finishing this, I realized that I had gotten the wrong firmness of tofu.

But I persevered only to be rewarded by the discovery that my baking powder was long since diseased. I was about to give up completely and try again next year when I spied, in the back of the spice shelf what appeared to be another tin of baking powder.

Having dug half the shelf out and in the process having dropped and scattered all the fiddly little jar between me and the container I managed to fish it out. And it was GOOD! Almost worth getting half-covered in Dutch processed cocoa for!

And with that, I finally had everything I needed. The result?

The recipe produced a moist, not too sweet cake with an almost custard consistency. Heavenly scented with orange and floral notes it made the house smell incredible.

But the best part was that it lived up to its siren song aroma. Intensely oranges with a slight, pleasant bitterness, it seems to bloom in the mouth, leaving behind a glorious lingering flavor of almonds. Rich and dense it is best in small pieces, powdered with a dusting of sugar and garnished with something just a little sour like raspberry coulis or a lively lemon curd.

Was it worth all that trouble? Absolutely. Though next time I might use a larger pan to change the ratio of custard center to chewy crust. Or perhaps, bake it in two round cake pans.

Triple Orange Cake


  • 2 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water (optional) [1]
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 Carton Firm Silken Tofu [2]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar [3]
  • 1.5 cups toasted and finely ground almonds or almond meal
  • 2/3 cup olive oil (I used half-blood orange infused and half regular) [4]
  • Powdered sugar for dusting on top when cooled
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Grease a 13x9 inch pan or two 8 inch cake pans.

Place oranges and lemon in a saucepan with enough water to cover most of the way. Bring to a boil and cook for half an hour or until the fruit is very tender. Drain and cool.

Seed the citrus fruit and cut into quarters. Place citrus into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add tofu and process until well blended. Empty into a large bowl and add sugar, vanilla, salt, and orange flower water (if using). Stir to combine.

Sift the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and combine with the ground almonds. Mix well.

Starting and ending with the flour alternatively add the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until mixed (add 1/3 of the flour and mix, add 1/3 cup of olive oil and mix, third flour, rest of olive oil, and rest of flour mixture). Do not over mix.

Pour into your baking pan(s) and bake until an inserted toothpick produces only moist crumbs not liquid. For the 13x9 inch pan this will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes [5]. For the 8 inch pans, probably 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When cool, cut into small pieces and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with raspberry coulis or lemon curd.

  • [1] Available in Middle Eastern grocery stores this is what gives the cake its perfumed scent. This is optional but highly recommended. It adds a subtle, flowery scent and an indescribable flavor. Quite good.
  • [2] I ended up using soft by mistake but I don't think it made much of a difference.
  • [3] I used vanilla sugar, but then again I make my own and it's easy for me to do so. 
  • [4] I used the blood orange infused olive oil to give it extra zing but half way through pouring realized that using 2/3 cup of the infused oil would be WAY too much so I cut it with a light olive oil that I use for cooking. A regular olive oil could be used instead but it should be extra virgin. 
  • [5] The top got quite dark in my convection oven; I will probably lower the temperature to 325 F next time though this should not be necessary for a regular oven. But even though the top was dark the tester never came out completely clean, however it ceased to be liquid and the crumb became very moist. This is what turns into the custard like texture of the finished cake (By Sarah_Marshall )


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