Candied clementine cake

Somehow from Christmas onwards, our fruit bowl seemed to be permanently full of clementines. At one point I found myself with a 2-kg sack of remarkably tasteless ones. What to do? I remembered Claudia Roden’s famous Middle-Eastern boiled orange and almond cake; maybe that would do the trick? Googling around I found many references to it, including Jill Dupleix’s version. I tried it with a few of the clementines but wasn’t very impressed. It was heavy despite the whisked egg whites, and not very tasty (clementines no doubt to blame for that). Darn, six eggs used on that.

More googling, and I hit upon Vegan Yum-Yum’s version. Aha, no eggs! I tried it and was really pleased with the result (and so were the choir members who got to taste it).

It was a bit soggy, and I messed up the frosting by cooking it too long, but candying the clementines gave it a really marmaladey flavour which I liked a lot. You can serve it for tea or as a dessert — skip the frosting and add a dollop of Greek yoghurt or crème fraîche. I’ve made it twice since then; it freezes well too. You do have to plan in advance to cook the clementines, but they’ll keep in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze them. Use the remaining syrup to make champagne cocktails (or just top up with sparkling water).

Here’s my metric version. When blitzing the clementines, try to drain them well so that you don’t include too much syrup, otherwise the cake will be even soggier. We don’t have bundt pans here, so I just made it in a loaf tin.

Candied clementines
12-15 clementines, well washed
900 g Sugar
700 ml water

Note: despite the name these aren’t candied in the sense of being sticky and chewy; they’re really just poached.

Pierce the clementines 8-10 times with a toothpick. Put them in a large pan with the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1-2 hours — don’t let them boil. Leave to cool in the syrup. Store in the fridge when cold.

Clementine cake
About 300 ml pureed candied clementines (about 6-8 clementines)
110 ml vegetable oil
220 ml low-fat milk (non-dairy if you are vegan of course; I’m sure almond milk would be good)
55 g sugar
220 g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking parchment. Use a food processor to blitz the well-drained clementines; don’t make a complete puree, there should be detectable bits of peel. Measure the quantity you need after blitzing. Whisk the oil, milk, and sugar into the puree. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and then fold them into the clementine mixture.

Pour the mixture into the tin (mine was quite sloppy). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, using a skewer or toothpick to check it’s cooked. Cool slightly in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack. I prefer it without icing.

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