GF Whole Orange, Almond and Chia Cake

The Great British Bake Off always inspires me to want to bake!

I’ve seen many incarnations of GBBO, including the Dutch one. And although most respect the tent format and boast suitably quirky presenters and knowledgeable judges, none quite deliver the warm hug of The Original.

As GBBO will move to another channel next year with Mr Steely Blue Eyes following the dough, but without M&S and without Saint Mary, I now treasure each and every remaining episode of GBBO 2016 as if it were a rare diamond.

My own baking is few and far between these days, as solo living means a whole cake goes an awful long way.

Also, although I am not a coeliac, my body seems happiest without huge doses of wheat. Combined with limiting refined sugars and unhealthy fat, this means I’m always adapting recipes and eyeing up “Free From” recipes that don’t forfeit flavour or the sense of indulgence.

This Orange, Almond and Chia Cake fits the bill perfectly.

It’s like the healthy upgrade of an orange and poppy seed cake. Being gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free, it doesn’t have the high rise of a traditional sponge. But it is light and beautifully moist with the surprise of Middle Eastern aromas in the glaze.  Alternatively, you could throw all health caution to the wind with my rich quick-fix chocolate glaze.

This cake is easy to make and freezes well, which is a bonus.

Chia seeds are little powerhouses of nutrition. Although hyped as a fancy modern superfood, these seeds have actually been around for thousands of years.  Rich in omega-3, they also contain protein, all 9 essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, fibre and antioxidants.

Due to their capacity to expand, chia seeds help you feel fuller for longer and work great in cakes and bakes without flour.

Plenty of reading online on all that, such as this article, if you want to find out more.

Chia seeds don’t taste of much, so they are pretty versatile to add to sweet or savoury. I also use them as an egg substitute in vegan bakes (1 tbsp chia soaked in 3 tbsp water replaces 1 egg).

As this recipe already has chia seeds in it, replacing the eggs thus would be, well, over-egging it.

Boom Boom.


Whole Orange, Almond and Chia Cake (serves 8 – GF DF RSF LC V)

GF orange and chia cake

Talk about recipe evolution: This cake is based on this recipe. Which in turn is based on this recipe. The spiced glaze is based on this recipe.

Julia Childs was right:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

If your oranges are waxed, pour boiling water over them and leave to sit for at elast half an hour. Then scrub before using in this recipe en in the glaze recipe. You will be surprised how much “muck” comes off!


2 whole oranges

6 large eggs

180 gr Erythritol or similar natural powdered refined sugar replacement (I used Natvia for baking)

250 gr ground almonds

3 tsp GF baking powder

3 tbsp Chia seeds, soaked in 60ml water for 30mins

GF whole orange and chia cake ingredients


Put the whole oranges in a pan, pour over boiling water to cover and simmer over low heat for 1hr.

Drain, cool (scrub if waxed) and purée the oranges, skin and all, in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 160C

Beat the eggs and sugar replacement until light and fluffy (hand mixer or food processor)

Add the ground almonds and baking powder. Mix until combined.

Mix through the orange purée and soaked chia seeds.

Pour the mixture into a 22cm loose bottomed cake tin or springform lined with greaseproof paper. It’s easier to do this is you crumple up the paper or make it a little wet.

Bake in the oven for 55-60 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

unglazed GF whole orange and chia cake

Leave to cool in the tin for at least 5 mins, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Best served warm, dusted with powdered stevia or icing sugar and, if dairy is not an issue, a good dollop of Greek yoghurt, crème fraiche or ice cream. Cold isn’t bad either, with a nice cup of tea. Or heat a slice on medium in the microwave for a minute or so.

Alternatively, you can glaze the cake with the Middle Eastern glaze below. Or serve it with the quick rich chocolate gIaze drizzled over.

If freezing, freeze before glazing or decorating.

Glazed GF whole orange and chia cake

Whole Orange, almond and chia cake

Middle Eastern Glaze (GF DF RSF LC V Vg)


Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 1 lemon

1 orange, thinly sliced (wax removed by soaking and scrubbing if not unwaxed)

3-4 star anise

2-3 cloves

1-2 cinnamon sticks

80 gr coconut palm sugar, Erythritol or 30 gr stevia

½ tbsp orange flower water (optional)


Heat everything in a pan over low-medium heat, stirring often, until syrupy.

GF Middle Eastern Whole orange and chia gaze

While still warm and in the tin, spike the cake all-over  with a skewer and pour over half of the syrup. Let it soak in and repeat. You may not need all of the syrup.


Quick Chocolate glaze (GF RSF V LC)


85 gr (milk) chocolate, nibs or small pieces

85 ml cream

20 gr butter


Heat the cream to just below boiling and pour over the chocolate and butter. Wait ½ a minute, then stir gently until everything is melted and combined.

Pour over the cake when serving as an alternative to the Middle Eastern glaze,

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