This is one of those miraculous gluten and dairy-free cakes that is so incredibly moist, your fork will make a slight squelch as you dig in. It also tastes even better on days two, 3 and four but frankly I’d be surprised if you have any lying around for that long.
Based on a Nigella Lawson recipe; whole clementines are boiled in water until soft and pulpy then blitzed to a beautiful orange puree. The fruit is then combined with ground almonds, eggs, sugar, baking powder – and a very special ingredient, Fiori di Sicilia.
Fiori di Sicilia is a highly concentrated extract of vanilla, citrus and flowers that’s traditionally used as a flavoring in Panettone and its magical fragrance enhances cookies, ice cream, meringue, cakes, etc. You only need a tiny amount as it’s extremely potent but it keeps for ages in the fridge. I purchased some over 8 years ago and it has lost none of its potency.
Anyway, it isn’t essential as the original recipe doesn’t call for it but it does elevate the cake to astonishing levels of ambrosial deliciousness, so I highly recommend investing in a small bottle of the stuff.
This also happens to be one of the easiest cakes to make and if you can’t find organic clementines, use oranges instead.
SICILIAN CLEMENTINE ALMOND CAKE
13 oz (375g) of clementines (approx 3 large ones) or oranges, preferably organic
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups of white cane sugar
2 1/4 cups of ground almonds (almond meal)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of Fiore di Sicilia
Put the fruit in a large pan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hrs. Remove them from the water and allow to cool.
Grease and line an 8-10 inch (20-25cm) springform cake pan and pre-heat the oven to 375F (190C).
Put the cooled fruit into a food processor and pulse until you have a lovely orange slurry. Beat the eggs with the sugar until they’re pale and foamy – fold in the ground almonds and baking powder, followed the pureed fruit and Fiori di Sicilia. Stir well (don’t beat) to combine, then pour the batter into the cake pan.
Bake for 35 minutes then check to see if the top is browning. If it is, cover it with a piece of foil and cook for another 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a rack and once cooled it can be removed from the pan and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. There’s nothing wrong with eating it right away but it tastes better if you wait 24-48 hrs.
Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar before serving – and a nice dollop of creme fraiche alongside would be perfect.