When you have a glut of fruit or veges, you end up searching for ways to use them to avoid chucking them out. This is what I've done when we had about 14 mandarines to use. Eating them is obviously an option, however they need to be eaten soon... They just wouldnt make it...
So I decided to make an adaption of Nigella Lawsons Clementine Cake - but with mandarines. The added bonus of this cake is that its gluten and dairy free! I dont follow either diet but its handy to have that kind of recipe in your recipe bank, should someone roll up with those requirements. This recipe also appeals to the frugal - you use the whole mandarin, skin and all. Ive read that this recipe can be adapted to use any thin skinned citrus fruit, and that its a very forgiving recipe - so if you try this with another fruit I'd love to hear about how it goes! Click on the link above for the recipe, Ill just describe how I did it and how it turned out.
Anyway... to start off you place 4-5 mandarins (I used 6 but 2 of them were really small) in a pot of cold water and bring it to the boil, and leave it on the stove for 2 hours. Depending on how you feel about the smell of mandarines, you'll either find the aroma the simmering fruits sweet, citrusy and warming, or weird. I found it pretty weird. It kinda reminded me of deep heat mixed with mandarin. Not the best combo. The recipe said nothing about whether or not you keep it boiling for 2 hours, or simmer... I pretty much just simmered it,but it boiled for a while. I dont think it really matters. The fruit will go from being shrivelled and bumpy, to smooth, plump and soft! Once they're done, drain them and leave them to cool somewhere for a while (be careful, as they're pretty hot!).
Once they're cool cut them in half and remove the pips, then blitz them whole. Skin and all! You can add the almond meal, sugar (I used half vanilla sugar and half caster, as I was unsure how strong the vanilla sugar would be), eggs and baking powder to the mixer, followed by your blitzed fruit, and give it a mix till its combined.
I found that the mix was really wet, and was a bit concerned that I had added too much fruit, however I was assured that it IS a wet mixture, and to have faith, Nigella wont fail me!!
Pour the mix into a greased 21cm tin, or as I used, a silicone mould. Make sure you have a baking tray or something similar underneath your silicon moulds, they're floppy and you might break your cake in half when you take it out of the oven!! I did admittedly use spray oil... I was in a hurry and couldnt be bothered to do it any other way. The purists will poo poo my decision to use it, however I had just spent half an hour scrubbing the shower, as well as the oven. So I earned a short cut, I think!
Pop your golden almond speckled gem into the oven for about an hour at 190C. You might find after a while that your cake is going a little tooooo golden on top (aka burnt) so after about 30mins cover it with baking paper to stop it going any further.
You can smell it now... and its smelling goooood! It will rise a bit, and I think I got lucky with mine, it was all uniform and looked good enough to be in a cafe - though it was slightly darker than I wanted in places... You need to let the cake cool completely before you try and get it out of your tin/mould. Its a really moist cake and when its hot its way too fragile to move it too much, just let it sit there for an hour for it to settle down and chill out.
For some reason, my cake seemed to be darker and moister than the rest in the middle, no taste difference really though! Its a bit sticky on the top, and came out nice and flat looking like a pro made it! Ive been told it improves in taste on the 2nd and third day, which is pretty sweet. So Ill have to report back tomorrow on how it tastes then. My bf and I had some tonight, and it was pretty nice. It was fairly sweet, as the boiling of the fruit really brings out the natural sugars. For some, its perfect, however for me, if I make it again Ill put less sugar in. It had a decent texture, however I noticed it being slightly eggy (there ARE 4 eggs in the recipe), which isnt something I really want my cakes to feel like, however it was negligable. Bf said that it was a good way to use up fruit that needs eating, however I dont think he was crazy about it. He said it needed a good bitter chocolate sauce on it, and I think it would be great with spiced lemony natural yoghurt or mascapone, as I think it definately needs something else.
However, in saying that... its meant to taste better tomorrow! So ill get back to you when I do further tests ;-)
UPDATE: have tried this cake day 2 and Nigella was right, it DOES taste better today. The citrus flavour has come out stronger and evened out the sweetness a bit. Its much better today - had it with some greek yoghurt which should have been toned down with something, but still really nice, with a healthy persuasion!
Related post: Ottolenghi's Clementine and Almond syrup cake - MUCH BETTER!