Yesterday, I tried a new cake recipe. I was interested in this cake because it is made from whole clementines that are boiled, pureed and then combined with just a handful of other ingredients, as if the inventor had started off making marmalade and then changed their mind and made a cake instead. I love marmalade. I used to make it all the time…maybe I should start again this winter. Oh how I love food that is bittersweet!
This recipe also interested me because it is rare for a gluten-free cake recipe to be so simple and have so few ingredients. For me, the fun thing about baking is that you can take simple, everyday ingredients and transform them into something totally new, just by combining and heating them in the correct manner. Most gluten-free baking involves combining many odd ingredients into batter that often behave as if anything is transforming. So, thought the final product might be wonderful, the process is simply not as enjoyable. This cake recipe takes common ingredients and applies some simple but WEIRD alchemy to them and magically makes lovely, moist cake. It was very enjoyable to make.
From Smitten Kitchen, adapted from Nigella Lawson
- 4 to 5 clementines (about 375 grams/slightly less than 1 pound total weight)
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
- 2 1/3 cups (250 grams) ground almonds
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- powdered sugar for dusting (optional).
- You could also make a glaze from confectioners sugar and clementine juice. (optional)
- candied orange peel (optional, recipe below)
- Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours.
- Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Butter and line an 8 or 9-inch (21 centimeter) springform pan with parchment paper ( I didn’t have any parchment paper so I just buttered the pan and dusted it with rice flour).
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
- Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Check to see if the cake is done ( a skewer stuck in the center should come out clean). If it is not done check it again at 10 minute intervals. Mine took 50 minutes total, but it may take up to 60 minutes total, depending on your oven. You might have to cover the cake with foil after about 20 to 30 minutes to stop the top from over-browning.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan, dust it with powdered sugar and garnish it with some candied citrus peel.
CANDIED CITRUS PEEL
- clementines, oranges, lemons or grapefruits
- sugar or honey
- white wine, brandy or grand marnier
- cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods or cloves (optional)
- Using a very sharp pairing knife, cut the peel off of your citrus fruit. I usually cut from the top to the bottom in long strips about half an inch wide.
- One at a time, place each strip on a cutting board with the white pith up. Use the pairing knife to cut all of the pith off. Discard the white pith as it is very bitter!
- Place your citrus peels in a sauce pan with enough water to cover the peels. Add some sugar or honey to the pan. I never measure this, but the ratio is something like 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water. You could add a bit of white wine, Grand Marnier or Brandy if you like. You could also add some cinnamon or cloves or cardamom, although I recommend keeping it simple for this cake.
- Bring the water to a boil, stirring it to encourage the sugar to melt. Allow the mixture to simmer until the syrup thickens a bit and the peels become translucent.
- Drain the peels reserving the citrus sugar syrup to use in cocktails or to make a salad dressing with a bit of vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. The peels can be rolled in more sugar and given as gifts or kept in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks. I like to add candied citrus peel to Sticky Toffee Pudding or use it to garnish a Marmalade and Sweet Almond Custard Tart.