Sometimes you spy a recipe somewhere, decide you have to make it, and it becomes a favorite. Other times, you have an idea for a bake, and go searching until you find a recipe that meets your idea. This is one of those times.
While pondering what desserts to bring to my friend’s new years party, I somehow got the idea of making a whole clementine cake. I suppose it may have been influenced by Mary Berry’s recipe for a Whole Orange Cake (I’m on a major Great British Bake Off obsession right now), although I definitely wasn’t thinking directly about it. The first recipe I found was Nigella’s Clementine Cake recipe, which looked wonderful, except it used ground almonds and my friend has a nut allergy.
As one does, I expanded my search to whole oranges and various other search terms. At some point, I stumbled upon a reference to a less-rich loaf, and decided to make it with a few tweaks.
I wanted some of the texture that nuts give, and decided to take a cue from Middle Eastern semolina cakes, and replace some of the flour with semolina. I decided to use a cara cara orange (one of my favorite varieties) instead of a plain navel, and to split the difference between various recipes by boiling it for a short time – some recipes used it raw, and others called for a two hour boil, which I definitely didn’t have patience for!
And finally, I decided to use the all-in-one food processor method rather than a standard creaming method – recipes were split on which to use, and some even said to use either.
What resulted was a wonderfully moist, flavorful cake with an intriguing and addicting texture that is dead easy to make. It was a hit at the party, with some friends telling me they couldn’t stop eating it. Which seems like the perfect excuse for me to make it again, since I can’t stop eating it either!
I should note that this is a very forgiving recipe, and I’ll confess exactly how I know this. The first time I made this, I mixed up the batter, and when I went to put it into the tin, it was so stiff and I thought, well, maybe it’s like a pound cake texture. And then a couple of minutes after I put it in the oven, I saw the bowl of eggs on the counter and realized I’d forgotten the eggs! So I pulled the tin out of the oven, scrambled the eggs with a fork, then poured it on top of the cake. I used the fork to scramble the eggs into the batter, until it had a uniform texture (making sure to pull the batter from the sides into the mix) and then put it back in the oven. It came out perfectly!
Recipe adapted from What I cooked last night
- 1 whole orange (see note)
- 13 tablespoons very soft butter (if it's too hard, microwave for 20 seconds to half-melt it)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup semolina flour (see note)
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt