I could bore you with stories of dead computers, yes, that is a plural, the quite extraordinary and enfuriating antics of Telecom Italia and rain so thick, pummeling and relentless I dreamed of building an arc, but I think you might prefer a nice cake instead, I know I would.
Munching my way through my 4th clementine the other day, my fingers sticky with citrus oil, pondering a 5th and mindlessly appreciating the startling orange happiness the bowlful before me was offering to an otherwise grey grey day, I remembered this cake. Somehow, It got forgotten last year, but normally it’s something I make as soon as I spy the crates of vibrant orange balls with shiny dark green leaves arrive at the market and there is a sniff of christmas in the air.
I think this is without a doubt one of the nicest cakes ever.
It is Nigella Lawsons recipe from her book ‘How to Eat’ ( her best book.) It doesn’t contain flour or fat, simply clementines, ground almonds, caster sugar and eggs. The resulting cake is simple and beautiful, flecked with orange, delightfully moist, dense yet with lightness and tantilizingly aromatic. It is good freshly made but another thing all together after one or two days wrapped in foil, its flavours intensify and it becomes even more deliciously moist and fragrant.
This cake has lovely sniff of christmas about it, clementines, almonds, but only a gentle, subtle one, which suits me, as I personally don’t want anything more than a sniff of christmas on the first of December (I am resolute in avoiding the christmas silly season which seems to start earlier each year.)
It is perfectly simple to make, you need a little patience while the clementines simmer away for a couple of hours, but you are rewarded for it by the most delightful, sweet scent pervading your kitchen. Once the clementines are soft, you halve them, de-seed them and then pulp everything, skin, pith, fruit before mixing together with 6 eggs, ground almonds, sugar and a generous teaspoon of baking powder.
I like this cake with a big blob of creme fraiche or even better Barbados cream, a mixture of heavy cream, greek yogurt and dark, soft muscavado sugar. It is very nice with a cup of tea while you write your christmas cards, that is allowed on the 1st of december, especially when you live with the antics of Posta Italia.
- 4 – 5 clementines (about 375g total weight)
- 6 eggs
- 225g golden caster sugar
- 250g ground almonds
- 1 generous teaspoon of baking powder.
Put the clementines in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Leave the clementines bobbing away for 2 hours.
Drain and cool the clementines. Once cool enough to handle, cut the clementines in half and remove the pips and then mash everything, skin, pith, fruit into a pulp.
Heat the oven to 190° and butter and line a 21cm cake tin.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the sugar, ground almonds and baking powder and stir everthing together with a metal spoon.
Fold the clementine pulp carefully but firmly into the other ingredients using a metal spoon.
Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for about 50mins to 1 hour, when a skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with baking parchment or foil for the last 20mins if looks like the top is browning too quickly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. When he cake is cool, take it out of the tin.
The cake is without a doubt better after 1 or 2 days.