Orange Poppy Seed Cake
It is almost winter time and oranges are everywhere to be found. This recipe takes advantage of this seasonal fruit and adds a healthy twist to the classical lemon poppy seed cake. It is an easy recipe to put together for either special occasions or simply as an everyday treat. It is not overly sweet and the orange flavor comes out beautifully.
For all the people on a plant-based diet out there, there is a vegan option without any animal products. The eggs in the original recipe can be replaced by aquafaba. To stabilize it, you need to whisk it with the coconut sugar by first transforming it into icing coconut sugar. Let us jump straight to the recipe.
For the cake:
2 eggs (or 150 ml aquafaba for the vegan option)
1/2 cup coconut sugar*
150 g almond flour**
1/2 cup poppy seeds
2 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed)
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
[optional] 5 drops of orange essential oil***
For the topping:
50 g dark chocolate
1 tsp coconut oil
[optional] confit orange zest
[non-vegan recipe only] Using a mixer, beat the eggs and the coconut sugar together until the eggs double in size.
[vegan option only] Whisk the (preferably cold) aquafaba with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Start adding the coconut sugar gradually and keep whisking until the mixture is stabilized.
Add the almond flour gradually while mixing gently with a spatula. After adding all the flour, the mixture should become slightly dense.
Add the orange juice and the orange zest, and mix again to make the batter runny again.
Next, fold in the poppy seeds.****
Add the coconut oil (and the orange essential oil, if desired) and mix one more time. Place the cake into a mold (silicon, preferably, to ease the de-molding after baking).
Bake at 180 degrees C for about 20-25 minutes (or until a stick comes out dry). The baking time may be slightly longer for the vegan option.
Allow the cake to cool down before de-molding and proceeding with the topping.
For the topping, melt the chocolate and the coconut oil together using the bain-marie method. Optionally, you can add in some confit orange zest to enhance the orange flavor.
Cover the cooled cake with the melted chocolate and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top. That gives the cake a nice finish, presentation-wise, and it works well with the orange, flavor-wise. Once the chocolate sets, the cake is ready to enjoy!
* For the vegan version, make icing coconut sugar to best incorporate the sugar into the aquafaba.
** Try to not over-mix the batter when you add almond flour in order to prevent the almonds from releasing too much fat. You can replace the almond flour with a nut/seed flour of your choice. I find that almond flour has a very mild taste and allows the orange to be the star ingredient. However, I have also successfully prepared this cake with both hazelnut and walnut flours. Both of these flours were definitely recognizable and one could taste them, but the latter did not compromise the overall citrus flavor of the cake.
*** The orange essential oil can be optionally added to enhance the flavor of the orange. It should be diffused into the melted coconut oil which would act as its carrier oil. Of course, if you do not have orange essential oil at hand or you simply do not like the taste of it, you can omit this step.
**** The final mixture should be neither runny nor extremely dense either. The cake thickens when baked thanks to the poppy seeds that soak in a lot of moisture. In case you end up with a very runny mixture after having added all the ingredients, try adding more poppy seeds, one tablespoon at a time. Another great trick to attack this situation is by adding one tablespoon of coconut flour. The latter acts as a thickening agent and contributes to the fluffiness of the cake.