My dear friend Gaye Fox doesn’t like desserts very much, but she is kind enough to make them for me when I go to stay with her. This cake is one of my favourites. It works well as a pudding cake, with some crème fraîche alongside, but I think I like it best as a little pick-me-up with a strong black coffee after lunch. You can make this gluten free by cutting out the breadcrumbs and adding more ground almonds instead.


For the cake

  • 2 ½tbsp Fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 100g Ground almonds
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 1 ½tsp Baking powder
  • 200ml Sunflower oil plus extra for greasing
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Orange grated zest of
  • 1 Lemon grated zest of

For syrup

  • 100g Caster sugar
  • 1 Orange juice of
  • 2 Lemon juice of
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 Small cinnamon stick
  • Candied orange slices to decorate (optional)


  • STEP 1

    Grease and then double-line the bottom and sides of a 20cm loose-bottom round cake pan with baking paper.

  • STEP 2

    Mix the breadcrumbs, almonds, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir in the oil and then the eggs, one at a time. Add the orange and lemon zest and mix well but don’t over-beat.

  • STEP 3

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake is a rich brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

  • STEP 4

    Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put all the ingredients into a pan and bring them gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by half (to about 5 tbsp) and is thick and syrupy. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.

  • STEP 5

    Run a thin round-bladed (blunt) knife around the edge of the still-warm cake, remove the cake from the pan and carefully peel away the baking paper from the sides and bottom. Place the cake on a plate. Use a skewer to pierce holes over the surface of the cake, then pour the syrup over the cake and let stand until the syrup has all soaked in. Decorate with the candied orange slices, if using.

  • STEP 6

    Once the cake is cool, loosely cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

This recipe is taken from Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, £24.95).


Having studied at Kew Gardens and spent two years at Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, Aaron Bertelsen is now vegetable gardener and cook at Great Dixter. His book, The Great Dixter Cookbook was published in March 2017.