Clementine Marmalade Cake (Gluten-Free)…a cure for the winter blues

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.

 I was also interested in the recipe because I found it on Smitten Kitchen (which is a food blog that I have really like) AND because it was adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.  A dear friend of my husband’s, who happens to be a great cook, recently sang the praises of Nigella Lawon, so I had been meaning to check her out.  Really, I mostly cook recipes that I’ve collected from friends and family, or from the same cookbooks and cooking magazines that I have owned for years.  I also frequently make stuff up based on what I have on hand.  I’ve just started looking at recipes on-line in the last few months and its pretty amazing!   You can learn to cook anything!  I know.   This is not news to anyone else.  I am VERY slow on the technological uptake.  For example I cannot figure out why wordpress will not let me make the next sentence a new paragraph so I will just add this row of stars!
I finally decided to make the cake because Ritchard and Bethany brought over clementines on Thanksgiving, so I had all of the ingredients on hand.  When I was still living in Canada as a child clementines were a huge christmas treat.  As the days get shorter, clementines do help!  If you are feeling blue get yourself a crate of clementines and try this cake.  It is actually a lot better the next day once the orange peel and the almond flour have had some time to get to know one another.  This would be a very good cake to take to a holiday party.  I didn’t change the cake recipe much.  This morning I decided it would be nice with some candied citrus peel on top, so I’ll include instructions for making that as well.


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)
  1. Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours.
  2. 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).
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  4. 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).
  5. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.


  • clementines, oranges, lemons or grapefruits
  • sugar or honey
  • water
  • white wine, brandy or grand marnier
  • cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods or cloves (optional)
  1. 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.  
  2. 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! 
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    citrus peels before simmering in syrup

    candied citrus peels in syrup
  5.  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.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Damn that looks yummy. Yea Nigella Lawson is hot. I have this vivid memory from years ago of watching her on tv mincing fresh herbs and garlic with one of those round knives that you rock back and forth to cut with. “That is how you do it!” I thought.


  2. Leat says:

    It was delicious. Erin always succeeds in widening my palette in surprising ways. Her wisdom comes out in many colors. Yummy!!!

  3. fi says:

    I’ve currently got this cake in the oven and cant wait to try it… it smells delicious.

    1. Hooray! I hope that you loved it!


  4. deanjuliette says:

    I made this cake for my eldest, recently diagnosed as coeliac after a long period of feeling unwell. A beautiful sunny cake for my beautiful daughter!

  5. How lovely! Your daughter deserves some home-made cake after feeling unwell. Thanks for letting me know that you made it!


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