Richness that’s lacking in sickly sweetness is the very essence of this cake. Even with the orange syrup it remains a well balanced cake. Some type of sweetener is inevitable when baking, so I cut corners whenever I can by adding less and using rice malt syrup, maple syrup, rapadura or coconut sugar and occasionally caster sugar. No matter the type of sweetener we use there will be some sort of controversy surrounding its health consequences, of which there are many. However, I find that the more we reduce our sugar intake the more sensitive our sweet buds become and we can significantly reduce the amount of sugar used when baking.
Olive Oil and Orange Cake with Figs
1 1/2 cups (195g) spelt flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (equals ~6 cardamom pods)
1 cup (250ml) nut milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil (good quality!)
1/2 cup (125ml) rice malt syrup
1 tablespoon orange juice
zest of one orange
handful of figs
handful of chopped pistachios
for the syrup
juice of one orange
1/2 cup (125ml) filtered water
1/3 cup (112g) caster sugar
Pre-heat oven 180˚C (350˚F). Grease a 20cm (8inch) cake tin with coconut oil and set aside.
In a large bowl, add flour and sieve in baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk through to break up any lumps and to combine the ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine ground cardamom with wet ingredients and mix with a hand held blender. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes.
In the meantime, combine orange juice, water and caster sugar in a pan and let simmer till all water has evaporated and only thick syrup is left (approximately 30min).
Remove cake from the oven and let cool. It’s likely the cake will not have a flat top. To remove the cake dome, trim the uneven cake layer with a long knife. Place the bottom side up for an even top to the cake. Take a fork and poke holes all over the top layer then brush with orange syrup. Decorate cake with figs and pistachios. You may choose to top with additional rice malt syrup or left over orange syrup. Cake will keep well for up to three days.