I admit that I tend to make double the amount of syrup needed for this recipe: I use the remainder in a variety of ways: a tablespoon added to chocolate and cream, melted, makes the most delicious, sticky ice cream topping. Add a spoonful to a salad dressing, instead of honey or caster sugar, and you suddenly have the most wondrous, heady flavours. I have also been known to add a spoonful to a small glass of warm milk before bedtime: quite a soporific effect it has too.
Please note that the tins used are 20cm sponge tins: line the bottoms with baking parchment and butter the sides very well. There is cardamom in the syrup, and in the cake too: 5 pods are used in the syrup to lightly flavour it, and then the ground seeds of 10 pods are used in the cake: 10 cardamom pods may seem excessive, but in fact there are so few seeds in each pod, that it really only creates a warm, fragrant flavour to the cake.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
For the Seville Syrup:
Juice of 2 Seville oranges
Rind of 1: slice the rind carefully from the orange, and cut into thin slivers. Try to slice off an equal quantity of rind and pith: ie, not too much white pith in your slivers!
¾ cup Blood Orange Liqueur (I use The Wiltshire Liqueur Company) or Cointreau, if you must
¾ cup caster sugar
5 cardamom pods, slightly bashed: you just want them to release their flavours, not necessarily all of their seeds, into the syrup
For the Cake:
200g salted butter, softened
130g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
125g gluten free self raising flour (I use Dove’s)
½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup groundnut oil
10 cardamom pods, husks discarded and seeds ground in a pestle and mortar
¼ cup of the Seville Orange Syrup
¼ cup full cream milk
For the icing:
200g salted butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
100g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla paste
¼ cup of the Seville orange syrup
250ml double cream
¼ cup flaked almonds, toasted, to decorate
a handful of candied Seville peels from the syrup
To make the syrup, pop all of the ingredients into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to the boil, boil for a minute or so, and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until a maple syrup consistency has been reached. If you feel it is too runny, simply hike the heat up and boil for a few extra minutes until it is the desired maple syrup consistency. Remove the cardamom pods, discard, and set the syrup aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a Kitchenaid, or similar appliance, until light and fluffy: you may be surprised at quite how long this takes: it needs to reach the “airing fat foam” stage: that is, when the butter and sugar have incorporated so much air through the beating process that the colour of the combination is almost white, and the consistency very fluffy: this should take about 6-7 minutes. Mix the ground almonds, flour, xanthan gum and baking powder together. Add ¼ of this mix to the butter and sugar, along with an egg, and beat gently. Repeat this process with the eggs and flour mixture until all is mixed in. Add the ground cardamom, oil, Seville syrup and milk and mix gently again, until all is incorporated. Divide the mixture between the two lined and buttered cake tins, level the mixture out with a spatula, and bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Please check the sponges with a skewer to ensure they are properly cooked through.
Allow the sponges to cool for 10 minutes in the tins, before running a knife around the sponges, removing the parchment and carefully placing on wire racks to cool properly.
To make the icing, beat the butter, sifted icing sugar, vanilla paste and cream cheese in a Kitchenaid or similar appliance until smooth. Add ¼ cup of the Seville orange syrup, and beat again. Finally, whip the double cream well, and carefully fold into the icing mixture.
When the sponges have cooled, sandwich the halves together with half of the icing, and spread the other half carefully on top of the cake. Decorate with toasted almond flakes, and the candied Seville rind, if you fancy it.