Orange and Almond Cake

James Beard

Author and Educator

“A very unusual cake from the Middle East with a moist, dense consistency that makes an utterly delicious dessert. It will not rise very much, and you may wonder if it will ever bake firm. Don’t worry, it will.”

Editor's note: this recipe, which James Beard first published in The New James Beard (Knopf, 1981), is believed to be inspired by James Beard Award winner Claudia Roden's recipe for Orange and Almond Cake from her influential cookbook A Book of Middle Eastern Food (Knopf, 1968).


  • 2 large oranges (preferably seedless navels)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • GARNISH: Thin slices of peeled orange sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and a touch of cinnamon, or fresh raspberries. Serve with whipped cream.


Wash the oranges and boil them in water to cover, without peeling, until very soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool, cut into quarters, and remove the seeds, if any. Process the oranges to a fairly fine purée in a blender or food processor or by putting them through a meat grinder. Don’t make it too fine. The little bits of skin, which will not be at all bitter after the long boiling, are pleasant to bite on.

Beat the eggs in a bowl until thick, then add the ground almonds, salt, sugar, baking powder, and orange purée, and mix well. Line a deep 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake in a 400ºF oven for 1 hour or longer, until firm to the touch when pressed with the tip of your finger.

Remove the pan to a rack, allow the cake to cool, then turn it out of the pan onto a serving dish. Serve garnished with orange slices or berries, and whipped cream.


Makes 8 servings