Stacked red-roofed houses dissolved into the emerald-hued hills of Andalusia in southern Spain where whitewashed villas glowed in the afternoon sun. We were headed to a family run farm to see their fruit orchards and century-old olive grove.
Eager to stretch my legs and get my bearings, when we arrived I followed a moss-laced path to an overlook. Beyond the embankment gnarled cacti fenced off a neighboring storehouse and in its shadow two horses grazed on over-ripe prickly pears. Where its roof had worn through, doves perched and cooed from the exposed rafters.
“Hola!” an elderly gentleman called out.
We returned his greeting and met him beside a thick knotted olive tree. Its silver-green leaves shimmered in a breeze that carried the scent of orange blossoms. Our guide pulled his sweater tighter and buttoned it as the temperate dropped with the sun.
His stride was sure and youthful as we followed him through staggered trees heavy with winter fruit. With a pocket knife he nicked a sunburned orange and removed the peel in one long spiral tossing it at the foot of the tree.
He divvied up the orange as we approached a cluster of almond trees.
With the scent of almond blossoms in the air I took a bite of the citrus. The orange was still warm from the afternoon sun, but its juice was refreshing—sweet and sharp.
When I find myself flanked by crates of citrus at the farmers market here in San Diego, my mind is immediately taken back to that Andalusian grove. With that memory as my guide I created one of my favorite desserts, an upside down almond flour cake, which is intensely orangey as it uses every part of the fruit. The cake is infused with whole oranges, scented with fragrant orange blossom water, and spiced with ginger, cinnamon, and warm cardamom. The smells it fills my home with are almost as transporting as the first bite.