Just about now, when the selection of fresh fruits and vegetables dwindle or feel uninspiring, and I start craving warmer-weather flavors, big boxes of these perfect little oranges start showing up.
Very quickly there’s a crate of clementines sitting in our fridge. We eat them for days and the pile somehow doesn’t grow smaller. It’s not a bad thing, but after a while I start to wonder what else I can do with all this citrus goodness. This year there were about 1/3 left when I committed to baking a cake. After days of brainstorming I came up with a way to say “I love you” to clementines, and used them in three ways in one cake: candied, juiced, and as zest.
To candy the slices, it takes about 4.5 hours of cooking- first on the stove, then in the oven. Transforming this fruit is a low and slow process.
It is so worth it. I candied three clementines and carried them with me throughout the week sharing slices with friends who were so surprised at how good they were. Truthfully, I was really surprised at how good they were! I am not a fan of candied oranges and the only reason I convinced myself to make this was because I’ve never tried them homemade, and my curiosity won out. They don’t compare to store bought. The sweetness is deep but not cloying. Isn’t it great when things taste real?!
Next, I needed to decide on the cake itself. I waffled between pound cakes, white cakes with chocolate frosting, and Sephardic almond and orange cakes (Ottolenghi has an incredible recipe I’ve made before) but ultimately decided on one of my favorite citrus cake recipes to edit.
The cake is an olive oil lemon cake and I make it a few times a year. It’s a perfect end to a big meal. It’s not a heavy dessert, but still has all the qualities I love in an after-dinner sweet. It also pairs so well with homemade whipped cream. Mmmwhippedcream.
Also, if you’re slowly making your way through boxes of clementines consider this recipe to shake things up!
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 clementines sliced very thinly with the rind still on
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp clementine zest
- 4.5 Tbsp clementine juice
- Powdered sugar for serving
- Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Add the clementines and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- To help keep the clementines submerged place a piece of parchment paper over the clementines and liquid. Let it simmer for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, remove them from the heat.
- Preheat oven to 250°F
- Remove the clementines from the syrup and reserve the syrup for other uses (mixing drinks, baking, etc..). Place the orange slices, in a single layer, on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat (or other mat) or parchment paper. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the orange slices and, on top of that, place a second baking sheet. The pressure from the second baking sheet on top of the clementines will help with the candy process.
- Bake for 2 hours. Remove from oven and when cool enough peel the slices off the sheet. Store in airtight container - I found lining whatever they were in with parchment paper helped reduce the sticking to things part.
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Grease and flour a 9" cake round and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer, or a hand mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar together on a high setting. Keep going until the mixture is pale, fluffed up, and thick - about 4-5 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the olive oil and clementine juice and mix it in with a rubber spatula.
- In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and zest. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until it is all well incorporated.
- Pour batter into the greased and floured cake pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the edges aren't too browned. My oven cooks it quickly and I start checking around 35 minutes.
- Let cake cool in pan slightly before inverting onto a plate or serving dish. Dust with powdered sugar and top with the candied clementine slices. I served it with a homemade almond whipped cream which was pretty amazing but this cake is also wonderful all on its own!