Christmas pudding can be too heavy for some, not to mention a lot of effort to make. Lorraine Pascale's Clementine and Almond Cake is a delicious alternative to the traditional Christmas desserts. It's moist, sweet and tangy, with the added bonus of being gluten-free.
My friend Satya gave me her version of an orange cake when I went for tea at her house. The cake was rich and slightly bitter, but also sweet with the tang of orange that lasted well after you had finished the final bite. This is my version of her beautiful cake and I hope that I can do it justice. I’ve used clementines but you could replace them with two large oranges instead, boiling them for a little longer. It is best to serve this spongy cake while it is warm.
5 medium clementines, scrubbed (but not peeled)
120g butter, softened
150g soft light brown sugar
320g ground almonds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder (gluten-free)
For the orange syrup
zest and juice of 1 large orange
150g soft light brown sugar
large handful of pomegranate seeds
handful of toasted flaked almonds
icing sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/gas 4) and line the tin with baking parchment. Pop the clementines into a large pan, then cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then cover with a lid and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the clementines are super soft – this makes the clementines much less bitter. Allow the clementines to cool down a little and then put them into a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Set aside.
Put the butter and sugar together in a large bowl and beat them well with the hand-held electric whisk until light and fluffy. Then add the honey and beat for another minute or so. Add two of the eggs and half of the ground almonds and beat until well combined and then add the other egg with the rest of the almonds along with the clementine puree, cinnamon and baking powder. Beat again until evenly combined. You can of course use a stand mixer to do this.
Tip the mixture into the lined tin and cover it loosely with foil. Pop the tin into the oven to bake for about 55–60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
About 15 minutes before the cake is ready, make the orange syrup. Put the orange zest and juice in a small pan with the soft light brown sugar and place over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and boil it for about 5 minutes, or until the orange syrup has thickened and reduced slightly. Set aside until needed.
Once the cake is baked, remove it from the oven and carefully take it out of the tin. Transfer to a cake stand or serving plate, and while it is still hot, brush the syrup all over the top and sides. I am generous with the syrup so that the cake is sticky, well soaked and full of flavour. Scatter the pomegranate seeds and flaked almonds over the cake and dust with icing sugar, if using. Transfer any leftover syrup to a little jug and serve with the cake.