Anyone who knows me knows I love playing with my food. I rarely make a recipe without adding a few tweaks of my own. That’s part of the fun! The recipe developer in me is always looking for ways to improve or enhance the outcome. I focus on flavor, texture, aroma and substitutions that can make a dish healthier without sacrificing all the above.
Recently my new foodie friend, Jenny Uphoff, served this Almond-Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake as the finishing touch on a delicious lunch at Green String Farm. When she announced proudly that it was gluten, dairy, and processed sugar free, as well as vegan, I have to admit my expectations lowered considerably. My experience with vegan baking has been lack luster to say the least. In the past, I’ve found eliminating all the “good stuff” usually yields a tasteless, weirdly textured result that misses the mark.
But then I sampled my first forkful of Jenny’s cake, and ate my words (and accompanying skepticism).
Not too dense and lightly moist, the citrusy overtones come from using best quality olive oil infused with blood oranges (I recommend sourcing from The Olive Press ), fresh squeezed orange juice, and plenty of grated zest. To boost the flavor, I added a generous dose of chai masala spice from The Local Spicery, and chopped candied ginger. For the gluten-free flour, I like the rice & nut based baking blend from Flour Chylde in Novato, but Bob’s Red Mill is also a good choice and readily available at many retail grocers. *I recommend using a blend that is not bean based, which can affect the flavor.
With no added sugar, the cake gets its mild sweetness from a simple glaze made with coconut oil, maple syrup, and fresh orange juice.
So to recap: it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan AND it’s delicious! Vegan baking has come a long way baby. Thank you, Jenny, for opening my eyes to new and yummy possibilities.
VEGAN ALMOND-BLOOD ORANGE OLIVE OIL “JENNY” CAKE (serves 8)
- 3 flax “eggs” Note: to make a flax “egg”, whisk 1 tablespoon ground flax-seed with 3 tablespoons water. This recipe calls for 3 “eggs”.
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (preferably organic)
- 3/4 cup blood orange infused olive oil
- 1/2 cup freshly squeeze orange juice
- zest of 1-2 oranges
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup gluten-free flour (see note in the post above for brand recommendations)
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 tablespoon chai masala spice blend
- 2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup sliced dry toasted almonds (for garnish)
- 1/8 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/8 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Heat oven to 350F.
- Combine all the wet ingredients together in a medium-size mixing bowl.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well to make a batter.
- Lightly wipe the interior of a bundt cake mold or pie tin with a little melted coconut oil to prevent sticking.
- Pour in batter and bake on center oven rack for 40-45 minutes. It is done when a knife blade inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cake completely on a baking rack.
- Before serving, make the glaze by combining the 3 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a light simmer for 1-2 minutes. Drizzle over the top of the cake (it will solidify as it cools). Sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds if desired and serve. Store leftover cake in the refrigerator.