Make one’s clementine cake

and eat it.

Oh dear, Christmas, I’m like a pendulum, one minute I’m all festive, twinkly lights, Stilton and hot chestnuts and the next I’m a bit bah humbug, mildly annoyed and wonky. It’s alright though, I’m used to it, it’s an annual thing and I try not to inflict either state on anyone in the other state if you get my meaning.  I deal with my seasonal schizophrenia by endeavouring to keep things – the festivities, food, drink, presents, decorations, socializing – quite simple, as my wise dad would say, it’s about keeping expectations flexible. If I set out simply, when Christmas explodes, which it usually does, like one of those table poppers, into something surprising and wonderful or something difficult, I manage slightly better.


So this morning with simple in mind I managed stop myself panic cooking the English christmas cake I’ve been promising myself and then berating myself for not making for the whole of December. It wasn’t easy, I had my coat on and I was writing a ridiculous list for a cake that should have been made in November (and then given weekly injections of brandy) whilst chastising myself for not being the magazine spread-christmas-perfect-gift-wrapped kind-of-person I claim to loathe. I took my coat off, screwed up the list and decided this year we can manage without both English Christmas cake and guilt and that being in Rome we should do as the Romans do and buy a very large panettone.

I still had cake on my mind though and a very large bowlful of clementines….

I love this cake, I’ve posted about it before, it’s Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book ‘How to Eat’ which is in turn inspired by Claudia Roden’s Sephardic orange and almond cake from her wonderful book ‘Middle Eastern Food’. It’s simple –  just clementines, ground almonds, caster sugar, eggs and a teaspoon of baking powder – and beautiful, flecked with orange, dense with almonds, it’s moist and aromatic, half pudding, half cake. I’m partial to a slice when it’s freshly baked, just warm, but maybe it’s even nicer if you wrap it in foil and keep it for a day or two, its flavours intensify and it becomes even more deliciously moist and fragrant. I suggest you make two so you can confirm this theory.

It’s simple to make, you need a bit of patience while the clementines simmer away for a couple of hours, but you’re rewarded for it by the most delightful, sweet scent pervading your kitchen. Once the clementines are soft, you half them, de-seed them and blend everything, skin, pith, fruit into a thick orange pulp which you then mix with 6 eggs, ground almonds, sugar and a generous teaspoon of baking powder. An hour on the oven, lovely baking smells and all that.

I like this cake as pudding with a big blob of creme fraiche or even better Barbados cream; a mixture of heavy cream, greek yogurt and dark, soft muscavado sugar and beside it a glass of dessert wine.

Clementine Cake

From Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to Eat’

  • 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, I use an immersion blender to do this.

Heat the oven to 180° 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 everything 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 the cake is cool, slide it out of the tin.

We didn’t wait.


Filed under cakes and baking, food, Puddings, Rachel's Diary, recipes

23 responses to “Make one’s clementine cake

  1. Lovely photos and cake…And I like that note about keeping expectations flexible. I need to remember that one.

    Merry Christmas to you soon, Rachel!

  2. Lovely cake and lovely photos. I love the contrast and saturation of color. Very nice.

  3. I made this recipe a while back but did it as cupcakes. It was delicious! I had forgotten how good it is, so I was happy to see this post. I may have to make it again now, as it is perfect for the holidays.

  4. How perfect! I was *just* planning on making that very cake too!

    I so adore your blog, Rachel. I love your writing and drool over your photos (not just the subject, but the background too – you should consider a post with just photos of your house!)

    We made your Spaghetti alla Puttanesca last week and, as Luisa Weiss would say, it is “lamination-worthy”! I’m so glad we had the guts to attempt it, despite a horrific previous attempt (never try Ellie Krieger’s version) and our presumed aversion to anchovies. We loved it and my sister has even asked for the recipe!

    Have a wonderful Christmas.

    • rachel

      Thankyou Raquelita thats a really nice message. Our flat isn’t actually that much bigger than the sofa you see and quite chaotic so your suggestion made me smile.
      Glad the puttanesca went well
      Happy christmas to you too

  5. This time of year we go through boxes and boxes of clementines; we love them so–they rarely make it into anything more than just being eaten out of hand. But they deserve more, such as this simple and lovely sounding recipe .

    I like your dad’s notion of keeping expectations flexible! Yes, keep things fluid..moving, changing as they do, and enjoy a Happy Christmas.

  6. I love this Clementine cake and the barbados cream sounds gorgeous, will have to try that. I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and enjoy that Panettone.

  7. I made this cake recently with mandarins preserved in Cointreau and it is rather nice. Your cake looks fab.

  8. what is golden caster sugar?

    i ask because i will bake this soon

    • rachel

      Claudia, it is just caster sugar but its made from unrefined sugar so it has a golden brown colour and has this nice nutty, slighly toffee flavour. Normal caster sugar works as well. Sorry that was confusing.

  9. Anu

    Hi, I recently discovered your blog, and am enjoying it very much. I just made this lovely cake and it was a delight. I especially liked that it contains zero butter! (I cut the sugar down too, and it was still good to my taste.) Next are the biscotti you posted a while back. (will have to pull out the butter for that one)

    Thanks so much, and best wishes.

  10. I completely forgot about this clementine cake. Must make it while clementines are still in season.
    Beautiful blog too, its been a pleasure visiting.

    • rachel

      I always forget about this cake too and then I make one and then another
      and promise myself i will never forget about it again.
      It’s lovely to have you here.

  11. LD1

    Hi Rachel,

    Just wanted to say Grazie. I made the clementine cake that you posted. It was simple, easy, and wonderfully delicious. Has definitely become a favorite. Thank you very much.


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  14. Moira

    Thank you thank you for this cake, which was so easy to make. The flavour is unbelievably intense. We’ve just discovered it’s equally delicious with a generous slug of double cream poured over! I might try making it with blood oranges next

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  16. Just put it in the oven, fingers crossed it doesn’t burn in the fashion of the fruit cake I put in the Aga earlier and promptly forgot to put the timer on. Bad day! x

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  18. It is a wonderous delicious fragrant cake. I love it, too.

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