Tuesday was my husband’s birthday so I organized a meal out for the 2 of us. I was attending an event that evening so I decided it was a good opportunity to go out near the event and get to know a different part of town a little better. I couldn’t get a reservation for dinner at the restaurant I wanted until 8:45 so I picked out a nice cocktail bar to grab a quick drink in first. I was deciding whether to tell him to meet me at the bar or just pick a cross-street and keep the surprise going a little longer when I had this idea to make the whole thing a little more mysterious and fun!
I looked up coordinates on Google maps and decided to provide him with just those along with the time he was supposed to be there. The first card was just a cross-street where we would meet and then I handed him the next card as we arrived at each destination. It was really easy to make the cards look special, even though I only came up with the idea on Monday night. I printed the numbers in a fancy font and added a flourish I found on Google. A quick wash of gold paint on the back and a flourished cut across the top was all it took, but if I had more time I’d probably buy some pretty envelopes, liners and papers. It was such a last-minute idea I was only thinking of it as a minor detail but he actually seemed to really enjoy it.
I knew I wanted to bake him a birthday cake (duh!) but he isn’t a big fan of regular cake. He really loves this orange & almond cake which my mum made while he was staying a few years ago and he still always mentions it, so I figured I’d make him that. It was originally published in Antony Worrall Thompson’s “GI Diet” book so I was assuming it would be fairly low in sugar too. When I actually looked up the recipe I was horrified to see how much sugar is actually in it so I decided to just make my own version instead!
If you want to make one too, you’ll need:
- 4 oz almond flour
- 2 oz butter
- 1 1/2 oranges
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
And for the filling you’ll need
- 4 oz mascarpone (or you could use whipped cream)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp bourbon
This is a dense, rich cake so I made it in a 7″ tin. If you don’t have a tin that small, I recommend doubling the recipe to make sure you have enough mixture for 2 layers of cake. Preheat your oven to 350F and grease and line your tin. Slice one of your oranges so you get 3 good slices from the middle, about 1/3″ thick and line the bottom of your tray with them. This will become the decorative top of your cake so try to arrange them in a nice pattern. Cream the butter with the almond flour and then blend in the fruit of 1 orange. You’ll probably want to use a blender/food processor to get the orange smooth and evenly distributed but you can get away with doing it by hand if you mix it well and mash up the orange as you go. Grate in about 1 tbsp of zest from the oranges and add the rest of the ingredients as well. Pour the mixture into your tin and bake for about 50 minutes until cooked. Allow it to cool and then carefully remove it from the tin, turn it upside down and slice it in half, horizontally across the middle. Mix up your mascarpone with the bourbon and vanilla (feel free to adjust the proportions to your own preferences!) and spread it on the bottom slice of your cake. Put the top slice back on, making sure the orange layer is on top.
This cake will keep a few days in the fridge, just make sure it’s in an airtight container to stop it drying out.