Many moons ago, I was watching an Italian travel and cooking show and was very intrigued by a cake the host was making. She boiled an entire orange and chopped it and used all of it in a cake. An entire orange. Most citrus cake recipes only call for the zest or juice of citrus fruits but this was very different. I did some reading up and learnt that it’s quite common in Seville to use an entire orange in a traditional flourless cake. There were several recipes online that called for the use of an entire orange. There was one from a magazine that used olive oil, flour and oranges. Tried that recipe thrice but each time the outcome was either too dense or too dry. I was also very skeptical about using whole oranges as I knew the rind would be bitter so, I used the thinest skinned orange I could find. Luckily, my fruit seller had an abundance of clementines. The fresh orange flavour of the cake was exceptional, just that the structure of the cake was just wrong. Eventually, I managed to find a recipe by Nigella Lawson that had already been tried and tested by many. By then, I had already boiled 4 batches of clementines and my house was smelling like marmalade (not that that’s terrible) and each time I needed more clementines, I had gone back to my fruit seller to buy another batch of clementines. Needless to say, my fruit seller thought I was quite strange.
These clementines from Taiwan were lovely tasting. I still have a batch sitting in my fridge and think I’ll make some orange curd soon. But I doubt they’ll last long in the fridge. I think I might have developed a love for clementines.
The aroma from boiling the oranges is really divine and refreshing. It’s natural aromatherapy. I tried several combinations of citrus fruits and finally settled on 3 clementines and 1 lemon. You could use all clementines if you want. It’s still very good. The vigorous boiling reduces the bitterness of their skins. There is no trace of bitterness once the cake is baked. This is one cake I’ll definitely be making again and again as it’s really easy as you mix it all by hand, delicious, relatively ‘healthy’ as it has no flour and butter and it’s the moistest cake I’ve ever had. On top of that, it actually tastes better the next day. It’s so simple to make that I don’t think you can ever mess it up. How have I not heard of this cake before?
Flourless Citrus Cake
- 4-5 clementines and lemons (about 375-380 g)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup and 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 and 1/3 cups finely ground almonds
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tsp orange flower essence (optional)
Put the clementines and lemons in a pot with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 2 hours. The lemon can be removed after 1 and 1/2 hour. Drain and when cool enough to handle, cut fruits and remove seeds.
Finely chop by hand or in a food processor the skins, pith and fruit. Leave to cool completely. This can be done a few days before and the chopped fruits can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before using in the cake mixture.
Preheat oven to 175°C / 375°F. Butter and fully line an 8 inch or 9 inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a fork. Add sugar,almonds, baking powder and orange flower essence. Mix well with a rubber spatula. Then, mix in the chopped citrus.
Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes (8 inch pan) or 40-45 minutes (9 inch pan). The cake is done when the skewer comes out clean. After 30 minutes, cover top of cake with foil to prevent the top from burning.
Remove cake from oven and cool completely in tin.
Serve once cooled or the next day with some greek yoghurt.
The citrus sugar glaze on top is optional. For the glaze, whisk equal parts fresh orange juice with icing sugar. If you want a thicker, white effect for the glaze, increase the icing sugar.
I served mine with a dark chocolate dipped citrus peel. To make it, melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler and add a tiny pinch of seasalt. Once melted, dipped some candied citrus peel (available at any good supermarket) and leave to cool on a tray lined with parchment paper. For a crunchy effect, you could sprinkle some flaked sea salt or course sugar on top. Leave to set in the fridge.
This is the easiest cake I’ve ever made and you can never over mix it or ruin it. Only the boiling part takes a while but after that step, it’s a breeze. The scent of fresh citrus while the cake is baking will make you want to make it again. You HAVE to try this recipe. And here’s why…