It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
I haven’t succumbed to the Christmas tree yet, or a tin of Quality Street – but a Christmas List has appeared on the fridge, the occasional festive tune is sneaking into the playlist and there’s a steady stream of clementines in the fruit bowl.
But after the initial flurry of excitement at these easy-peel beauties, there’s always a handful of sad ones that get neglected for too long and end up rejected at the bottom of the bowl. These are the ones that have become a bit wrinkly and quite frankly have reached the stage where they don’t pretty much peel themselves. And that’s a problem when there are two teenage sons in the house. To clarify … for these guys, convenience ranks right up there with taste. Possibly higher.
But let’s face it – if they ever did put in the effort to peel a wrinkly clementine, they’d probably find that it’s past its best … the taste is there but the juiciness has long gone. Shame.
So in an attempt to avoid throwing out the sad specimens, I decided to see what else I could do with them to bring them back to life – a touch of fruit bowl rejuvenation if you like. And here it is, this Sticky Clementine Cake – just tweaked a smidgen from this recipe in Delicious magazine. The secret? Boil the dried out old fruits in water for a couple of hours and then puree them (skin and all) to form a zesty, moist addition to a gorgeous cake. There’s lots of ground almonds in there too and a clementine juice drizzle to pour over at the end. It’s also a cake that keeps well and freezes perfectly. Sounding good?
It’s dessert worthy with a blob of crème fraîche but it’s also perfect on its own. And it’s a bit Christmassy too – without being all tinsel and baubles. Subtle, I’d say and a change from all those rich and heavy traditional festive bakes. As a bonus, it’s also gluten-free and, if you skip the crème fraîche, dairy free too. Could be useful.
If I can tear myself away from The Crown, I’ll be enjoying a slice or two while watching one of my favourite films, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ – which incidentally stars a Clementine Cake made by Shirley MacLaine.
The perfect feel good cake to accompany a classic feel good movie. And to think, it started out as an austerity cake. Just shows …
- 5 clementines
- Vegetable oil/butter for greasing
- 275g (10oz) caster sugar
- 300g (11oz) ground almonds
- Seeds from 10 green cardamom pods, crushed slightly
- 1 tsp baking powder (choose a gluten free brand if required)
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 6 eggs, beaten
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Put 3 of the clementines in a pan of water and bring to the boil, simmering for 2 hours. Make sure the water is topped up as necessary. Drain the water away and leave the boiled clementines to cool. Cut the boiled fruits in half and blitz them (skin and all) in a small food processor.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F (gas mark 4). Grease a 23cm (9") springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
- Put 225g (8oz) of the caster sugar, the ground almonds, the crushed cardamom seeds and the baking powder into a large bowl and combine. Add the blitzed clementines, the vanilla extract and the eggs to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Now transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the drizzle by squeezing the juice from the remaining 2 clementines into a small pan. Add the remaining 50g (2oz) of caster sugar and the lemon juice and simmer gently for about 3 minutes so that the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Remove the cake from the oven and straight away pierce the top a few times with a skewer. Drizzle over the citrus syrup and allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. Serve as it is or with a blob of crème fraîche.