Before Christmas, I had been tweetering about my lack of grace when it came to baking. I was on the look out for simple, fool-proof recipes that might help build up my confidence when it came to cakes.

Sinead Ryan (@sineadryan) came to my assistance by emailing me her tried and tested recipe for a Tunisian Almond and Orange cake. She had made it for many a dinner guest and promised that it always turned out delectable.

I have since made this cake about seven times, and each time it has turned out without a snag and barely a pearl of sweat sweeping my brow. It’s a very straight-forward and simple cake, with a devastatingly sweet yet easy-to-make citrus syrup to drizzle over the top. It genuinely tastes better the day after baking which makes it extra brilliant if you’re cooking for a crowd and want to get the dessert well out of the way!

What you need for Sinead’s Almond and Orange Cake

For the cake

45g of slightly stale white breadcrumbs

200g of caster sugar 

100g of ground almonds

1 and a half level teaspoons of baking powder

200ml of sunflower or vegetable oil

4 medium free-range eggs

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

For the syrup

85g of caster sugar

Juice of one orange

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick 

Start by pre-heating your oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5. 

In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, caster sugar, ground almonds and baking powder.

In a measuring jug, mix together 200ml of vegetable oil, 4 large eggs and the orange and lemon zests.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold the wet egg mixture into the dry ingredients until well blended. You will have a really wet and sloppy mix. 

Grease a 23cm springform cake tin with a bit of butter.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put into the oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a skewer placed into the centre comes out clean. It will be a little oily but that’s good.

Allow the cake to cool in its tin. Once cooled, transfer it to a deep-ish plate so that your syrup will be able to collect around the cake.

Before serving, make your syrup. Put the caster sugar, lemon and orange juices, cloves and cinnamon stick in a small frying pan. Bring it to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for three minutes.

Allow it to cool slightly and you’ll see it’ll be lovely and syrupy.

Using a skewer, poke lots of little holes all over your cake. Now pour the syrup all over the cake, making sure to evenly soak the whole thing. 

Serve warm with a dollop of creme fraiche on the side. 

Simple! If you’re making a slightly Moroccan or Middle Eastern themed dinner, there couldn’t be a better end to it than this cake. Such a wonderfully simple yet rewarding cake recipe. Thanks again, Sinéad!

KITCHEN TUNE

Here’s a clip of Tunisian violinist and viola d’amore player Jasser Haj Youssef performing La Médina. It’s not the best quality – a man walks past the screen at one point – but it’s pretty evocative of that fascinating part of the world.