Orange Blossom Tea Cake

I'm not sure if you've ever had the pleasure of smelling a blooming orange tree, but it's intoxicating in the best way; the sweet smell of their blooms fills the air long before they're even in sight. This tea cake is like the blooming trees. While there are subtle floral notes in the taste, the orange blossom component has everything to do with the smell, and it fills your nose with every bite. Dense but still crumbly, it's slightly sweet and inviting the company of a slathering of jam and cup of Barry's Irish breakfast tea (because it's the best!). 

You'll notice this recipe calls for whole wheat flour, typically taboo in cake recipes as it can add too much density, leaving you without that traditional light and crumbly texture. However, I love using the ivory wheat flour in this cake. Not only does it add nutrients and a bit of protein from the whole grains, this flour adds a delicate toasty layer to the flavor profile. By nature, it does cause the cake to be denser, but that's why you whip the egg whites! This will ensure your cake achieves a nice rise and a good crumb. The addition of hazelnut flour aids in the texture and helps to keep the cake from drying out. Finished off with a brushing of orange blossom syrup, your nose and taste buds will both be thanking you for treating them so well. 

If your local grocery store doesn't carry these items, you can order the Ivory Wheat flour and Hazelnut flour online! If you aren't sure where to find orange blossom water, it's started popping up in conventional grocery stores lately, but any food mart that carries a good selection of or specializes in Middle Eastern products should have it. You can also order it online.

Recipe by Sarah Ward

Orange Blossom Tea Cake

  • 1 cup Ivory Wheat Flour (or half traditonal whole wheat, half all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cup hazelnut flour (can sub with almond)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp softened coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp orange blossom water
  • 3 Tbsp orange blossom syrup 

Preheat oven to 350’F. Grease an 8” cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Whisk together all dry ingredients (Ivory flour through cardamom) in a small bowl to remove any clumps. Set aside.

Separate the egg yolks and whites. Set the yolks aside and add the whites to a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. 

In an additional mixing bowl, combine coconut oil and sugar. Beat on low speed until the oil and sugar whips together and becomes *fluffy (about 2 minutes). 

*If you haven’t creamed coconut oil with sugar before, please note that it will start out looking crumbly and then clump together before becoming smooth and eventually the consistency of a thick nut butter. It takes a bit longer than creaming soft butter with sugar (so, stick with it!).

Add in the egg yolks, and beat until the color has lightened a bit and the texture is fluffy (about 1 minute). Mix in the vanilla extract and orange blossom water just until combined. 

Working on the lowest speed, beat a third of the flour mixture into the sugar mixture until the flour is mostly incorporated. Add in half of the milk and beat to combine. Continue this process in the same order with the remaining flour and milk. 

Scoop a cup of the beaten egg whites into the batter. On low speed, mix until fully incorporated. Switching from the electric mixer to a spatula, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold them into the batter by hand, just to combine. If there are a few clumps or thin streaks of whites, that’s ok. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, spreading it evenly through the pan. Place in the middle of your oven to bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top begins to form small cracks and the center has risen. 

Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue cooling on the rack. Brush the top with orange blossom syrup in 2 or 3 installments, allowing a few minutes between brushings so the cake to soak up the syrup. Remove the parchment paper before serving.

The cake can be eaten as is or with a hearty smothering of jam. For a dressier finish, dust the edges with powdered sugar and decorate with chopped hazelnuts and/or edible flowers. 

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Desserts, Vegan, _RecipeSarah Ulloa