The Perfect Clementine Cake

clementine cakeFlickr/framboise/CC BY 2.0

This is a perfect cake. Just like that: Perfect. I can never seem to shut up about it. It’s an unlikely combination of whole clementines with eggs and almonds that are transformed into some lovely creature that is part brilliantly bright citrus cake and part dense steamed pudding -- like the love child of a vivacious starlet and a brooding poet.

The basic recipe comes from the kitchen of Nigella Lawson and beyond its amiable flavor and texture, there's still more to love. It only has five ingredients (why is that simplicity so appealing?), it is nearly foolproof, it is gluten-free, and it is a splendid way to use the season’s citrus that may be languishing in the fruit bowl.

(And here's a secret. The recipe calls for simmering the clementines for two hours. If that is prohibitive for you, you can skip the long stove time by using persimmons instead. (Mmm, persimmons.) Slice the persimmons in half and scoop out the flesh, place in a food processor and briefly pulse, proceed with the recipe.)

  • 1 pound clementines (about 4 or 5)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (or Sucanat)
  • 2 1/3 cups ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Use organic clementines if they are available to you. Scrub the clementines well and place in a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

3. Drain water off and when clementines are cool enough to handle, cut each one in half and remove the seeds.

4. Put the Clementine halves (skin and all!) in a food processor and briefly pulse, then add remaining ingredients and pulse to a pulp.

5. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan and pour mixture in. It is a very wet batter, don't be afraid, it will work!

6. After 40 minutes, cover with foil to prevent top from burning. Cake is done after about an hour total, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, remove from pan. It can be served immediately, but improves after one day.

It is lovely on its own, but takes kindly to garnishes as well. A glaze, or dairy (mascarpone, creme fraiche, Greek yogurt, whipped cream), and a tangle of tangerine segments work wonders.

The Perfect Clementine Cake
Five ingredients and gluten-free.

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