I cannot resist a recipe that leaves you wondering how it could possibly work. I had that experience with this recipe for Clementine Cake, from domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. These lovely orange clementines find their way into this cake completely whole, peel and all.
Of course, this comes after a long dip in a pot of boiling water, but I still could not understand how the peels would not be bitter in the cake. There's a fair amount of sugar, but nothing I would consider excessive or unusual, so I guess you just have to put your faith in the mellow sweetness of a great clementine. On top of that, this is a flourless cake, turning instead to ground almonds for it's dry component. How many odd things can one recipe contain?
Despite all of the oddness, this really worked. You could taste the bitterness of peel, but balanced so nicely with the sweetness of the fruit. I might even say that the batter tasted a bit like Froot Loops...maybe. But this cake was wonderfully moist, with a lovely gritty texture from the ground almonds, and with the tang and sweetness of the clementines. Simple, interesting, delicious, and a great surprise. I love it when that happens. Recipe after the jump:
NIGELLA LAWSON'S CLEMENTINE CAKE
Adapted from foodnetwork.com
4 to 5 clementines (about 1 pound total weight)
6 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (adjust if your fruit is not sweet)
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the entire fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover the cake with foil after about 40 minutes to stop the top from burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan and dust the top with confectioner's sugar. This cake is actually better the second day, reheated a bit to make the edges slightly crisp. I also found that this goes really well with blueberries, but those are opposite season fruits, so don't tell anyone I said that.
This can also be made with an equal weight of oranges and lemons, in which case you increase the sugar to 1 1/4 cups and add a glaze made of confectioners' sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.