I first encountered this unbelievably moist and citrusy cake on vacation in Laguna Niguel. A few of my girlfriends (including my lovely blog-mate Heather) and I borrowed a house from a friend and spent a long weekend hanging, lazing, cooking, making margaritas from scratch, and playing a giant game of Connect Four.
My friend Dana brought the ingredients for a version of this gluten-free cake along with her. We made it with lemons that time, and my eyes popped out of my head when I watched her boil lemons for 2 hours, then stick them minus the seeds but otherwise whole into the blender and puree them. “That is going into a cake?” I thought. And then: “Ew.”
As far as cakes go, this one is extremely healthy: the only “bad” ingredient it has is a little sugar. And in the oven, the cake transformed into something that smelled and tasted truly special. We threw some fresh tart berries on the top, and let (the half that remained of) the cake sit overnight to turn into the most moist, light, and lemony cake you’ve ever eaten. We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone.
This is the first time I’ve tried it with oranges (These were hand-picked oranges from the tree at a friend’s place in Silver Lake the day before. Oh, how I love California…) and I made two versions: the one pictured, which I baked plain and then dressed with raspberries and let them “mush” into the cake overnight, and a second little one with loads of dark chocolate chips inside (not pictured). As someone who generally doesn’t like orange confections, and especially hates orange with chocolate, I surprised myself by loving these cakes equally.
If you decide to substitute lemons for oranges, just add a little more sugar. And if I made this cake again tomorrow, I’d probably use a few tablespoons less, though the tart fresh raspberries balance the sweetness of the cake gorgeously.
Here’s to a new year with new tastes and new recipes! Enjoy!
Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake
- 3 small navel oranges (about 1 lb. weight), washed
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/3 cups ground almonds (you can find almond meal at Trader Joe’s or make your own in a coffee grinder)
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- optional 1 pint fresh raspberries or 1 cup dark chocolate chips (plus more of either to taste)
Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil a 9″ pie pan (or oil and line a 9″ spring-form pan with parchment paper).
In a saucepan, place oranges in cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 hours, refilling water if needed, until oranges are very soft. When they are cool enough to handle, cut oranges in half and remove seeds. Place whole oranges, pith and all, into a blender or food processor, and process until very finely chopped. (You may also do this by hand if you like larger orange chunks in your cake.)
Separately, beat the eggs. (By hand is fine.) Add oranges, then all of the dry ingredients, and beat quickly a few times until totally combined. If you’re adding chocolate chips, now is the time.
Then pour into your pie plate and bake for 25-35 min. or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You may need to cover the top with foil after 20 min. to make sure it doesn’t burn (I didn’t need to). Remove and let cool on a rack. When cake is warm but not hot, spread raspberries over the top.
When cake is cool, cover with saran and refrigerate overnight. (I left mine out in a cold kitchen on the counter overnight and it was great.) Bring it to room temp before serving to release all the flavors. Feel free to garnish with confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder, or both!