Betty & Tee’s Tunisian Almond-Orange Cake

Recipe courtesy of Betty Adams and Tee Jennings

     The story that goes with this recipe is as good as the cake! A friend, Ann Boughton, first tasted this when she visited her cousin and his wife, Roy and Tee Jennings.
     Here's the story behind the recipe (as told by Tee) . . . “Betty and her fiancé Michael (a native of Kansas) were in Donegal, Ireland, and have never seen a pastry shop they couldn't visit. They tried the Tunisian Cake and loved it. When she got back home she searched the web and found several recipes but couldn't find any in U.S. equivalents that came close to the texture and taste of the one in Donegal. She called me to see if I had ever had this cake in the UK or Europe and might have been given the recipe along the way. We got into weights and measures and flavors and eventually worked out the recipe which we each made. I blanched and peeled the almonds before grinding them in my mini-prep. She didn't.  Roy decided blanching made for too much work. It was my idea to add the 1 tsp. pure almond extract after I made the cake the first time. We were going to call it "Mediterranean" but decided to stick with "Tunisian" which sounds more exotic...don't you think?”
     Betty and Tee suggest serving their cake with Greek yogurt or whipped cream and noted, “the cake lasts for days or even weeks.”
     I served my cake with sliced strawberries and orange sections. Whipped cream sprinkled with just a little ground cinnamon and orange zest was available on the side.
     This flourless cake relies on ground almonds and breadcrumbs for its base. To make it gluten-free, use wheat free breadcrumbs.

Tunisian Almond-Orange Cake
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup stale breadcrumbs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup ground almonds (grind whole, slice or slivered almonds in a food processor or blender)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pure almond extract
Zest of 1 large orange
Zest of 1/2 of a large lemon

Juice of 1 large orange
Juice 1/2 of a large lemon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

1.  Whisk oil and eggs together. Add to dry ingredients, almond extract and zests; mix.  
2.  Pour into an 8” parchment lined, greased and floured cake tin or springform pan.  (I sprayed a 9” springform  pan and then dusted it with extra bread crumbs.)
3.  Put in a COLD oven, turn to 350° – bake for 45-60 minutes until firm and golden brown.  (I used a 9” spring form and it was done in 30 to 35 minutes.)
4.  While cake is baking make syrup by gently simmering syrup ingredients for 3 minutes.  (This is basically a simple syrup that uses fruit juices in place of the usual water. Most recipes call for about an equal amount of liquid and sugar and although I did not measure the juice, it looked like that was the case for this recipe.)
5.  When cake is baked pierce all over with toothpick and gently spoon over syrup, until it is all soaked up.
6.  Cool cake in pan. When ready to remove, run your knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake.
7.  Serve decorated with cloves and cinnamon from syrup. (I also liberally sprinkled the top with toasted, sliced almonds.)

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