Clementine Cake

Tangerine illustration for Christmas Clementine cake

How many clementines would you say were too many for a person to eat while watching Charlie Brown Christmas?

Actually, better not tell me.

The wooden crate-full diminishes on my coffee table. Happiness and citrus hang in the air.

But as much as I love to eat clementines unadorned – and I really do love to – I love to bake this clementine cake, from a recipe by Nigella Lawson. There’s something incredibly satisfying about boiling whole fruit, processing them to bits then turning them into a baked good. It just seems so unlikely. Also, all that wonderful citrus smell. It’s a mood enhancer and a half.

I have a friend who doesn’t eat dairy, so I make this for her birthday, which, luckily, falls at the beginning of January when there’s something of a glut of clementines, tangerines and even – and it was delicious, though a bit more sour – Seville oranges. Worth keeping in mind.

Last year I baked this cake a few days before Christmas as snow blanketed the UK. For my nieces and nephews, this was their first ever snow – a cause of extreme excitement. Even for Sam who initially looked at the snow flakes with deep suspicion, then wept when one landed on his wellington boot.

I watched them through the kitchen window as they made snow angels, towed each other on sledges, ate copious amounts of icicles and generally had a wonderful time.  And baking this now in my kitchen miles away in Manhattan brings with it memories of that Christmas celebration – which is exactly why traditions are worth having I suppose.

Line of parcels illustrated for Christmas Clementine cake recipe

Clementine Cake

5 or so clementines (about 375g) – if you can’t find seedless ones you’ll have to pick the pips out, or substitute with tangerines
6 eggs
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 and 1/3 cups of ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder (if it’s been open for longer than three months it’s useless and best avoided)
  • Put the clementines in a pan of cold water. ring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours. drain and cool
  • Preheat the oven to 375f (190c)
  • Finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor
  • Butter and line an 8-inch (21 centimeter) spring-form pan with parchment paper or a silicone slip mat)
  • Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder.
  • Stir in the chopped tangerines.
  • Pour into a tin and bake
  • Nigella suggests baking for 50 minutes, covering the top to prevent burning after 40. I usually find that 30 minutes – sometimes 35, in which case I cover the top – is plenty. Keep testing. A skewer should come out clean.

Note: I leave my cake plain, but Nigella suggests dusting with icing sugar. I have made versions with a glaze made from confectioners sugar (icing sugar) and orange juice – it’s a good way to fancy things up a little if you think things need fancying.

This recipe originally appeared paired with brandy with a story of Christmas with the in-laws.

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