Boiled orange and saffron cake

Boiled orange and saffron cake

Tara Fisher

I first made this when I was in Valencia, southern Spain, which of course is famous for oranges and saffron. Boiling the oranges makes the mixture a bit different – it produces a moist texture rather like a polenta cake. Saffron should always be used sparingly, particularly in desserts, as the flavour is very strong.


Quantity Ingredient
butter, for greasing
650g whole unwaxed oranges
400g caster sugar
300g ground almonds
6 eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 heaped teaspoon chinese five-spice powder
2 good pinches saffron threads
50g blanched whole almonds
1 orange, juiced


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a 23cm diameter springform cake tin. Wash the oranges thoroughly, then put them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. Remove the cooled oranges and cut them in half, discarding any pips. Roughly chop them, then put them in a food processor along with 250g of the sugar, the ground almonds, eggs, baking powder, five-spice powder and saffron and process to a purée, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1½ hours. Check if the cake is cooked by inserting a clean skewer or knife into the centre – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, bake for a further 10 minutes and check once more.
  4. Meanwhile, for the decoration, put the remaining sugar in a saucepan along with 1 tablespoon water and gently heat through. Cook until the sugar is syrupy, then add the whole almonds and cook for a couple of minutes more. Remove the almonds with a slotted spoon and place on a wire cooling rack, then add the orange juice to the syrup and heat through.
  5. When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out. Pour the orange syrup over the cake, then scatter the almonds over the top.
James Martin
Saturday Kitchen
slow cooking
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