Like the Orange-Glazed Olive Oil Cake with Fleur de Sel, this cake uses whole fruit that has been boiled and run through the food processor. Although Nigella's recipe simply instructs you to cook the clementines for two hours on the stove, I changed the water three times during cooking just in case it would help reduce the bitterness of the pith. After two hours, the skin of the clementines was very soft, so much so that the it was tearing just from my handling the fruit. I cooked the clementines a day ahead, so I cooled them and put them in the refrigerator until the next day.
The following day, I ran the clementines -- skin and all -- through the food processor and added them to the remaining ingredients: eggs, sugar, ground almonds, baking soda, and cream of tartar. I substituted baking soda and cream of tartar for the baking powder specified in the recipe since regular baking powder is not kosher for Passover since it contains cornstarch. The normal conversion is 1 teaspoon of baking powder equals 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar, as baking powder is just baking soda with some acid and starch added in. Since the cake recipe calls for a "heaping teaspoon of baking powder," I figured that was probably about a teaspoon and a half, and so I scaled accordingly to 3/8 teaspoon baking soda plus 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
When I rotated the cake 180 degrees 30 minutes into baking, the center of the top was already quite dark brown, so I tented the cake with foil to prevent the top from burning. Since I used a 9-inch springform pan and the recipe called for an 8-inch pan, I thought that my cake might finish cooking earlier than the specified time (a 9-inch round pan is more than 25% larger than an 8-inch pan). I checked the cake at 50 minutes and a toothpick came out clean, so I took it out of the oven.
tres leches cake that is purposely soaked with liquid until it reaches saturation. The other truly odd thing about this cake is that the bottom of each piece had a layer that was basically pure cooked egg -- if you look carefully in the picture above (click to enlarge), you can see the thin layer of light yellow egg on the bottom, especially towards the center of the cake.
Despite all this, the cake was tasty, without any hint of bitterness. The clementine flavor was very nice without being overpowering, and the ground almonds gave the cake a great texture. And, of course, the cake was very moist!
I'm still not quite sure why the cake was so wet. Part of me thinks this problem could have been ameliorated if I had baked the cake for a full hour. Also, the one slice of cake that I saved for Tom and put in the refrigerator for about 12 hours was less wet -- but I'm not sure if this was due to the passage of time, from being chilled, or both. I also think that I used too many clementines. The version of the recipe that I used from the Food Network website says to use 4 to 5 clementines, about one pound total weight. I got out my scale and used six clementines, which came to about 18 ounces. I noticed, however, that the version of this recipe on Nigella's website, which has metric measurements, specifies 375g total weight clementines, or a little over 13 ounces. I think I might have just ended up with more clementine juice than the cake could absorb, especially in the absence of any flour.
I do want to try this cake again with fewer clementines, and maybe let it sit a day or two before serving, since the consensus seems to be that the cake improves with time. I do love almonds and clementines. And this cake did have a lovely flavor. So I hope to give it another try soon!
Recipe: "Clementine Cake" by Nigella Lawson, available here and here.
- "A Cake With Zest: Mom's Olive Oil Orange Bundt," April 8, 2011.
- "A Baking Leap of Faith: Orange-Glazed Olive Oil Cake with Fleur de Sel," July 9, 2010.
- "Happy Siete de Mayo: Tres Leches Cake," May 8, 2010.