About the Recipe
Puréed, boiled clementines lend themselves to an indescribably moist, citrus-flavoured, flourless almond cake. This cake has proven very popular with family and friends as a dessert or for tea with lightly whipped cream. In Zimbabwe clementines are known as naartjies, which is an Afrikaans word from neighbouring South Africa. It is a fruit that is grown in profusion in the Mazowe citrus estates close to Harare. It is ideal as a flourless cake for Passover with baking powder omitted*. For a festive touch I scatter glistening slices of candied clementine on the top or simply dust with icing sugar.
4-5 whole clementines 250g (9oz) caster (superfine) sugar 6 eggs, separated 250g (9oz) almonds, blanched and finely ground
1 heaped tsp baking powder large pinch of saffron threads
For the syrup: 1 cup freshly squeezed clementine juice
2 tbsp caster sugar
For greasing: 1 tbsp soft unsalted butter
For dusting: icing (confectioner’s) sugar
For candied clementines: 4 clementines 140g (5oz) caster sugar
140ml (1⁄4pt) water
Prepare the clementines: Put the unpeeled clementines in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 hours or until tender. Remove the clementines from the pan and discard the liquid. When the clementines have cooled, cut them open and discard the pips. Place in a clean tea towel and squeeze to remove all excess liquid, reserving 1 cup for the syrup. Whiz the cooked clementines in a food processor until smooth.
Prepare the syrup: Heat the clementine juice with the caster sugar in a small pan over a medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the syrup thickens. Pour into a serving jug.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease the base and sides of a 23cm (9in) spring-form cake pan. Cut out a circle of baking paper and line the base.
Make the cake: In the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer, beat the sugar and egg yolks at high speed until pale and creamy. In a separate bowl combine the ground almonds, baking powder and saffron threads and fold gently into the egg and sugar mixture. Fold in the puréed clementines.
Beat egg whites in a clean bowl with the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks form. Then, in two batches, gently fold in the egg whites into the mixture using a large metal spoon, until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert onto the wire rack to cool completely. When cold, transfer to a serving plate. At this point make the candied clementine slices or dust with sifted icing sugar.
Make the candied clementine slices: Slice the clementines to a 5mm (1⁄4in) thickness. Place the sugar and water into a small pan over a medium heat and simmer, stirring constantly, to dissolve the sugar. Immerse the clementine slices and bring the syrup to a boil. Cut a circle of baking paper to fit in the pan to keep the fruit submerged for 30 minutes until the slices are glossy and translucent. Remove with a slotted spoon and cool on top of baking paper. Arrange the clementine slices, slightly overlapping, on the outer edge of the cake.
Serve a slice of the cake, spooning over a little of the syrup together with lightly whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.
You can substitute clementines with tangerines or mandarins.
To get the lining for the base of the cake tin just right, lay the cake tin on a sheet of baking paper and trace an outline. Cut it to fit snugly in the base of the tin.
*For the Passover add 1 extra egg white and omit the baking powder.