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Eretz Israel Cake With Orange, Dates and Marzipan

From Joan Nathan, The Foods of Israel Today

Makes: 9 inch cake


  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. marzipan
  • grated zest of 2 oranges
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1.75 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. pitted dates, chopped
  • 1/3 c. candied citrus peel, chopped:
    • peel of 2 oranges
    • 1.5 c. sugar, plus more for dusting
    • 0.5 c. water
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 c. orange juice
  • 3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • buttercream frosting (optional):
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
    • 2 c. powdered sugar
    • 3 tbs. cream
    • 3/4 tsp. vanilla
    • 1/4 tsp. orange flavor


  1. To make the candied citrus peel (this makes about 1 cup, enough for three cakes):
    1. Cut 2 oranges in to quarters. Separate peel from insides, which can be used for some other purpose. Remove excess pith from peel with a kitchen spoon, leaving most of it. Cut the peel into long strips no more than 1/4-inch wide.
    2. Blanch the peel: cover the peel with water; bring to a boil; drain. Repeat, and repeat again, for a total of three times.
    3. Make a basic syrup with 1/2 cup water, 1.5 cups sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Heat to 230F. Add orange peel, and reduce heat to a moderate boil. Cook for 30 minutes, until soft.
    4. Dust a piece of wax paper with sugar. Lift the orange peel strips from the syrup with a fork and spread out on the wax paper. Dust with more sugar. Let cool and dry, at which point you can separate from wax paper, and toss with more sugar. (At least that's what I did. Original recipe suggests laying them out individually on a rack to cool, then dusting with sugar or dipping in chocolate.)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper cut into a circle.
  3. Place sugar, marzipan and orange zest in mixer bowl; beat to break up the marzipan until it is the texture of sand.
  4. Add eggs; whisk until light, fluffy, and pale yellow.
  5. Sprinkle 2 tbs. flour over the dates and candied orange peel in a small bowl, to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter.
  6. Sift remaining flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Add sifted dry ingredients, orange juice, and melted butter to the marzipan-egg mixture. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are just incorporated (don't overmix; batter should be soft and creamy). Fold in dates and candied orange peel.
  7. Pour batter into pan, tapping a couple of times to remove air bubbles. Bake on middle rack of oven for 40 minutes.
  8. Make frosting (optional): soften butter; mix in powdered sugar alternating with cream; add vanilla and/or orange flavor. Frost cake. Garnish with extra candied orange peel.


  • Recipe doesn't call for icing, and indeed is quite sweet and moist on its own. Still, the frosting pushes it to another level. I adapted this from Mark Bittman's vanilla buttercream frosting, substituting a little orange flavor for some of the vanilla. Bittman also has an orange icing variation, which struck me as complicated (egg yolk and orange juice instead of cream) and overkill: I wanted just a hint of orange.
  • I use medjool dates whenever possible, soft and sweet.
  • I haven't been able to find candied citrus peel, so have had to make my own, starting with various recipes I found on the web, e.g. this one.
  • Nathan suggests making the marzipan from scratch, and provides a recipe for doing so. I haven't tried it. The Odense 7 oz. marzipan package is a little more than 1/2 cup, but it doesn't hurt to use it all.

Keywords: Israel, Dessert, Cake.