Clementines are a fruit that you only see in December and in 5 lb packages. I don’t think I’ve ever seen clementines at the grocery store in any other month or in any other amount. My mom grew up getting clementines in her Christmas stocking; however, Santa’s never been that kind to me.
A quick background—clementines are essentially seedless tangerines—tangerines being the little brother in the Orange family. Their sweetness, thin rind, manageable size, and lack of seeds make them ideal snacks and in my opinion superior to your average orange.
I came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and was excited by the prospect of baking with Clementines. Since my grandma hadn’t figured out a dessert for Christmas Day, I figured this could be one of the offerings.
The cake uses the entirety of the Clementine, rind and all. Also noteworthy is the cake’s lack of butter or flour. I didn’t have a springform pan, so I improvised by lining a regular pan with parchment paper and then greasing the hell out of the bottom of it. I prayed for a Christmas miracle—that the cake would come out in one piece. For whatever reason, I ended up with more than enough batter to fill an 8 inch pan, so I made 12 cupcakes in addition to the cake.
If you make this recipe, make sure to grind the almonds as much as possible. My fear of over-processing the almonds to a paste left me with a coarser cake. Don’t make my mistake; you want finely ground almonds.
Other than that, the cake turned out all right. I found the cake to be tolerable at best, but some of my family members really enjoyed it. They said it was refreshing after scores of chocolate and lemon and yellow cakes. Personally, I think I’ll keep my cakes and my clementines separate but equal.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from Nigella Lawson
5 clementines (a little less than 1 pound)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
2 1/3 cups (250 grams) ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups of Powdered sugar for glaze
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. Place clementines in processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (If you don’t have a springform, use a regular pan and just line with buttered parchment paper—it worked fine that way for me)
Beat the eggs, and then add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the clementines.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, when a skewer will come out clean.
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 and dust it with powdered sugar. Alternatively, you could make a glaze (powdered sugar and boiling water and a teensy bit of clementine juice) and drizzle it on top. Just sift sugar into a bowl and slowly add small amounts water (maybe a teaspoon or two at a time) until you get the right consistency. I did the glaze, and didn’t have a problem with that.
The cake was still moist when it was served three days later, so it holds up rather well. Just glaze it the day of.