Candied Clementine + Rose Cake
Mmm, citrus. I know it's not technically citrus season anymore, but my grocery store is still overflowing with clementines. And few days ago, we had a fruit basket full of some that were just starting to over ripen. I started digging around for a good clementine cake recipe, but I couldn't find one I liked. So I Frankenstein-ed one from a combination of several. The result was a tender, moist pound cake that smelled heavenly. My husband and I loved this cake because it was just sweet enough to count as dessert, but still mild enough to enjoy for breakfast, too!
All of the liquid in the cake came from whole puréed clementines, rind and all! It took a couple of mindless hours to simmer the fruits so that they could easily break down in a blender, but I hardly slaved over the stove. Several episodes of Kimmy Schmidt were watched. Chips were eaten. Toes were painted.
Anyway, the resulting flavor was something very similar to marmalade - tart, sweet, and bright. Basically, the cake tasted like sunshine. And in a nod to spring, I topped it off with a simple rose glaze and candied clementine slices. Voilà, simple and incredibly delicious!
So if your local grocer is still selling clementines by the truck load, consider turning them into cake! Because cake is always better. Always.
Clementine Cake with Rose Icing
Yields one 8-inch cake (use a 3-inch tall pan like this one; see Note 1)
Candied Clementine Garnish
4 whole clementines, sliced thinly (approx. 1/4 inch wide)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
13.25 ounces (weight) whole clementines
1 cup almond flour
1 cup all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 ounces (weight) unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature*
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
*Additional butter and flour needed for prepping the cake pan
2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons milk (fat content doesn't matter here)
1/8-1/4 teaspoons rose extract (to your liking)
Candied Clementie Garnish
Cut a piece of parchment paper to just fit inside a small pot, then set aside. In the same pot, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the clementine slices, reduce the heat to barely a simmer, and place the piece of parchment on top of the liquid to keep the fruit submerged. Simmer for 2 hours, then remove the pot from the heat. Allow the entire mixture to cool completely.
When the clementines are room temperature, gently remove the piece of parchment. Then carefully remove the fruits from the liquid and allow them to dry on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. The remaining syrup can be saved for another use, like flavoring drinks. You can candy the fruit as you simultaneously boil the whole clementines (below).
Place the whole, unpeeled clementines in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, adding more water as needed. Afterward, turn the heat off and allow the clementines to cool to room temperature. Once cool enough to handle, pull the clementines apart with your hands and remove the stems, center veins, and any seeds. Then purée the whole fruits (skins and all) in a food processor or blender until smooth. You can set this mixture aside momentarily, or you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Just be sure to bring it back up to room temperature before baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trace and cut a circle out of parchment paper to fit inside a deep 8-inch cake pan (see Note 1). Grease the inside of the pan with some additional softened butter, then press the parchment circle into the base of the pan. Grease the top of the parchment with butter as well, then coat the parchment and pan's sides with some extra flour, patting out the excess. Set aside.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a bowl, then set aside. In another large bowl or a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat on medium for about 30 seconds between each addition until thick and pale. Then add the room temperature clementine purée and vanilla and beat for about 10 seconds to combine. Add the dry ingredients and either whisk or stir on low speed until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack until the edges are golden brown and starting to pull away from sides of pan, the top of the cake springs back when pressed, and/or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes (see Note 1). Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes while still in the pan. After cooling a bit, run a knife around inner edge of pan to loosen the cake, then flip it onto a plate (it will be upside down). Peel off parchment paper, then flip the now upside-down cake onto the wire rack and allow it to finish cooling completely (right side up).
Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl in order to remove any clumps. Whisk together the sugar, milk, and rose extract until smooth and thick. Place the cake and wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the icing over the cooled cake and allow it to stop dripping. Then transfer it to a plate before the top completely sets and top it with the candied clementine slices. Let the icing finish setting, then enjoy the cake for breakfast or dessert!
- You can use a 9-inch pan, but the cake will be thinner. If you want a thick pound cake like the one shown here, you'll need a deeper 8-inch pan. Those typically sold in stores are 2 inches high, but Amazon and Michael's sell 3-inch high pans. If you do use a 9-inch pan, the thinner cake will need less time to bake, so start checking it for doneness after 40 minutes. Check again every 3-5 minutes until done.