Interviews, Kitchen Stories, Recipes, Video
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Orange and almond gluten-free cake

gluten-free cake

For one reason or another – trust me – one day you will find yourself looking for a lactose-free, gluten-free cake recipe. If you’d rather try one with a story, then save this.

This time the Kitchen Stories series features Ailsa Kay, from Scotland, contributing an easy and orangey recipe.
Our guest cook has a peculiar enthusiasm for cotton handkerchieves and I bet you haven’t met anyone with this particular quirk yet!
I recently recalled owning a set of hankies of my own when I was a child, back in the 80s. Since then, I’ve seen the use of fabric handkerchieves decline unforgivingly, to the advantage of disposable paper tissues.

Honestly, I didn’t even notice this was happening: it just became increasingly natural to see people pull paper tissues out of a box rather than washing fabric ones with the rest of the laundry …Even more so when you’ve watched When Harry Met Sally way too many times – remember when Sally finds out that Joe is getting married?

gluten-free cake

The Handkerchief Project – photo: Justina Nekrasaite

Even though disposable tissues might be convenient and necessary for hygienic reasons in many applications, talking to Ailsa about handkerchieves – and remembering there was a time when they were a common personal item – made me realise we could reduce a lot of waste if we would turn back to hankies for some uses.
I found out that the ever-rising industry of tissue paper had a huge dip in correspondence with the Great Recession of 2009, which suggests we probably don’t need as much of it as we actually use (particularly in the Western world).

If you eventually decide to carry a cotton hanky, it might as well be pretty! Ailsa tells us about her handkerchief obsession in the Kitchen Story video [below], as she prepares a gluten-free cake.

As Soup As Possible is only the last link in this sharing chain: Ailsa originally got the recipe for this orange and almond gluten-free cake from Mrs Leslie, the grandmother of her friends Katie and Alison.
Ailsa and the twin sisters have literally known each other for a lifetime, since their mothers met in the same maternity ward.

gluten-free cake

Mrs Leslie’s own recipe book.

The three babies were born five days apart and have been friends ever since, celebrating more than a few birthdays together.
Ailsa is allergic to wheat, so Mrs Leslie, known for her birthday cakes and her love for her table arrangements, had to figure something out for her granddaughters’ friend.
She baked the gluten-free cake Ailsa chose to share, and the recipe has then travelled with her from Scotland to Amsterdam, for the benefit of As Soup As Possible readers!

The recipe happens to be dairy-free as well, which will turn out very useful when you have to bake for someone with more than one food intolerance or you simply want to cut on lactose.
If you try it yourself, please feel free to post your comments below. We’ll make sure to make Mrs Leslie know how you liked her cake!

Ingredients for orange and almond gluten-free cake.

2 whole organic oranges (make sure the peel is not treated)
160 g castor sugar (fine sugar)
175 g ground almonds
3 small eggs
1 teaspoon of baking powder

This cake has a very short ingredient list, so it’s a perfect solution for a sudden baking fit or to improvise a dessert with what you’re likely to already have in your pantry.
Even so, you might be missing castor sugar (superfine sugar) or ground almonds.

Castor sugar and ground almonds tips.

For the former, here’s an easy fix: quickly blend regular sugar in a food processor until it gets to a fine consistency.
As for the almonds, if you happen to have shelled almonds at home, it won’t take long to peel them and grind them.

gluten-free cake

Mrs Leslie’s original recipe.

How to peel almonds? Bring some water to a boil in a cooking pan, turn the stove off and place the almonds into the hot water for about a minute. Drain the almonds, then quickly rinse them with cold water. This latter step is for your own good, as you will then squeeze the almonds out of their peel, one by one, pushing them from the bottom and through the tip of their coat. Lay them onto a clean towel to dry completely (or dry them in the oven, if you don’t have time). Finally blitz the almonds in a food processor to the desired thickness.

If you ask me, this process is very relaxing …just try not to eat all the almonds as you go!
Buying bigger packages of whole shelled almonds and grinding them by yourself saves you money and reduces disposable packaging material. You can blend more almonds and store them for other recipes.


The steps to make the orange and almond gluten-free cake are quite easy and don’t require any particular equipment aside from a basic food processor.
The total preparation time is about 90′.
You will need to pre-heat your oven to 180°C /356 °F, fan on.

  1. Scrub and rinse the oranges in cold water to remove any dirt or insect. Place them (whole as they are) in a pan with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for about 30′.
  2. Fish your oranges out and let them cool down for a few minutes, then slice them into pieces that you will blitz into a puree.
  3. Whisk three eggs in a bowl, add the sugar and continue whisking until the mixture becomes fluffy and pale.
  4. Fold the orange puree in (at this point it will be cool enough).
  5. Add the ground almonds and the baking powder and finish folding it evenly into the mixture.
  6. Pour into a baking tin and cook for about 45′ in with the fan on.

The high percentage in fresh fruit makes this cake quite wet. It will require to cool down completely in the baking tray before you remove it.
It’s always wise to keep a close watch on your cake the first time you bake it, as ovens aren’t all alike and yours might require a slightly different cooking time. As a matter of fact, even Mrs Leslie’s original recipe features some variations in cooking time and temperature scribbled in her notebook. The final indication of 180°C for 45 minutes is adjusted to my own oven. The classic toothpick test is always recommended!


gluten-free cakeAilsa Kay was born in Scotland, where she studied Spanish and Anthropology. She moved to Amsterdam in 2013 to explore her Dutch side.
Following her curiosity and her interest in crafts and sustainability, Ailsa started The Handkerchief Project . She recently produced her first series of handkerchieves.

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