Mandarin orange and cardamom loaf cake

I love spices. I love all types of spices; the hot, the fragrant, the pungent and the aromatic; basically anything that makes your taste buds or olfactory receptors wake up and go “oooh what’s this now?” Baking is a great way of introducing spices into your sweet repertoire and to this end, you’ll go a long way before you find a more harmonious pairing than cardamom and orange. This cake is lovely with a cup of tea or coffee or you could also serve it warm with some sweetened mascarpone and have as a dessert.

3 eggs

300g caster sugar

100g coconut flour

250g plain flour

Half teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1.5 tsps baking powder

Seeds of 8 cardamom pods (removed from husks and crushed with pestle and mortar)

Zest and juice of 3 mandarin oranges (keep separate)

180mls sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze:

Juice and zest of one more mandarin orange combined with 4-5 tablespoons icing sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment.

2. In a large bowl, place the eggs and sugar and using a hand mixer, mix for at least 5 minutes on a high setting. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, orange zest, salt, cinnamon and cardamom seeds (they should be in powder form after being crushed).

3. Add the sunflower oil, orange juice and vanilla extract to the wet ingredients and mix for a minute.

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and gently combine until there are no lumps. Transfer into your loaf tin and pop in the oven for about 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. There may be a little mixture left over, you could use it up to make mini muffins but these will take only 15- 20 minutes or so.

5. To glaze: combine the icing sugar, zest and juice of a mandarin. Stab your loaf a few times with a skewer to help it seep through a little.

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