This blood orange cake takes inspiration from the Mediterranean

This is for all my blood orange and sweet dessert lovers! Blood orange is my new love.

It all started with Aranciata Rossa, a blood orange Italian drink. I never thought about blood oranges. I ate a lot of oranges as a child; I liked how sweet they were, but a little tart. Blood orange is its mature version.

Early on, I worked with them in marinades, used them in whiskey drinks, and finally decided it was time to turn it into a dessert. If you are not a fan of sweet desserts, this is the perfect cake for you: blood orange is a delicate, sweet and slightly acidic orange.

For this cake, I went full Mediterranean, using spices and nuts that paired perfectly with the blood orange. This tart is juicy, earthy and delicately spiced to pair with this amazing appetizer.


Blood orange cake with hazelnut crust

Preparation time: 45 minutes; cooking time: 60 minutes

Service: 1 9-inch cake pan

Earth’s crust
  • 1½ cups ground walnuts (see steps)
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 10 tablespoons of butter, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup finely grated blood orange zest
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup strained blood orange juice (about 5-6 blood oranges)
  • ¼ cup strained lime (or orange) juice
For confectionery
  1. Place a handful or two of hazelnuts in a food processor and grind them until they resemble sand. Measure out 1½ cups of hazelnuts. Return one cup of hazelnuts to the food processor. Add sugar, salt, cardamom and ginger. Pulse for a few more seconds until combined. Add the flour and beat for a few seconds until combined. If you don’t have enough of a processor, use a large bowl to beat the flour and nuts.
  2. Add the butter to a food processor and pulse until the butter is the size of a pea. You can also cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. Beat the egg and add to the dough. Mix until the dough starts to stick together. Turn the dough onto a flat surface. Work and roll into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into a 12-inch round. For ease, roll between two sheets of wax paper sprayed with cooking spray, silicone mats, or plastic wrap. Carefully press the dough to the sides and the wall and place it in the cake pan. Roll a rolling pin over the tart pan to trim the edges. Put the cake in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
  4. Place the prepared cake pan on a baking sheet. Line the tart with parchment paper and pour the baking weight into the tart. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and bake for another 8 minutes. When done, remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees. Warning: When the weight of the pie is removed, you can start making the curd.
Blood Orange Curd
  1. Place the butter in a large heatproof bowl. Place a mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the blood orange zest, sugar, salt, eggs, and egg yolks. Gradually whisk in the blood orange juice and lime juice until combined.
  3. Heat over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and cook at 160-165 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. Be sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan as you stir. As you get closer to the end, reduce the heat to very low. If the mixture starts to curdle or bubble, remove it from the heat immediately and proceed to the next step.
  4. Strain the curd and immediately pour it into a bowl with oil. Be sure to trim the bottom of the fine mesh filter. Whisk to incorporate the butter and remove any lumps.
  5. Make sure the oven temperature is down to 325 degrees. Pour curd into the dough and bake for 18-25 minutes. When the sides are slightly raised and the middle is wobbly like a set of Jell-O, the pull is done. The tart is well done when the center starts to rise and crack. Review when using time as a checkpoint.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap before refrigerating to cool completely.