Boiled Clementine Cake

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Boiled clementine cake is a traditional Chinese dessert to celebrate the end of Chinese New Year Festivities. This whole clementine cake recipe is based on an old favorite but with a lighter taste than the original. It is easy to make and can be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

This easy clementine cake is a great recipe for the novice baker, who wants to impress their loved ones on special occasions. The cake has an amazing citrus flavor, and with its light fluffy texture, this cake is perfect for picnics at the beach. Below are some of the health benefits of eating cake.

Whole Clementine Cake Recipe

This moist, tender clementine cake uses the whole fruit—peel, pith, and seeds, all of it! Plus, the batter is made in a food processor.

Side shot of clementine cake sliced.

It always makes me feel cheery to see the bright colors of citrus at their peak during dreary winter months. The vibrant yellows, greens, oranges, and pinks add a spark of light to the dark, cold days. You know what else creates a spark? Cake. Cake brings pure happiness no matter the temperature outside, and when paired with the sunny, juicy clementines, fireworks happen.

As if you needed another reason to whip up a cake, this recipe uses the whole clementine, rind and all, meaning there is no food waste. It’s the perfect cake to make when you have the weeknight baking bug. The batter comes together quickly in the food processor leaving you with very few dishes to wash.

This clementine cake is elegant enough for celebrations and casual enough for snacking. Let’s gear up for all you need to make this vitamin C packed treat. 

The Pith Is Magical

The thing that makes this cake really special is that the entire clementine is used, no need to peel, zest, or compost! It’s no secret that citrus zest has so much flavor. But it can also be quite bitter on fruits with thicker piths, like lemons and grapefruit. The bitterness of a clementine is scaled back because the pith is thin, which makes it perfect for this recipe.

Once it’s puréed, the whole clementines become thick and creamy resulting in a dense but moist cake. It also means the batter doesn’t need as much added fat.

Bathtime for Clementines! 

Clementines are more than just a snack. These sweet little goodies are an often-seedless hybrid of mandarins and navel oranges. They are at their peak flavor when the pith feels soft and is easy to peel away. 

It is important to wash the clementines with hot soapy water to remove the waxy coating. This wax helps protect them on the long journey from its tree to your kitchen, but you won’t want to eat it.

To Boil or Not to Boil

There are some recipes out there for whole clementine cake that call for boiling them. This method breaks down and softens the fruit while decreasing the bitterness. 

I skipped this step and instead increased the sugar slightly and used less clementines. The sugar helps balance the bitterness. Plus, the boiled clementines soak up water, making it difficult to get the proportions of the remaining ingredients just right.

Almonds + Clementines = Perfect Flavor Marriage

Almonds have a special affinity for citrus. Nutty almonds and floral oranges are a well-known couple in the world of cooking, and I did not feel it necessary to break them up. Here, I use almond extract to add that subtle flavor in the batter and then chopped roasted and salted almonds get sprinkled on top of the cake.

Top It Off

Creamy and smooth homemade whipped cream spiked with almond extract gets dolloped on top of the cake. Then chopped, roasted, salted almonds are sprinkled on for the ultimate crunch with each bite. Alternatively, you could simply dust with powdered sugar, drizzle with melted chocolate, or slice up fresh berries to serve on the side.

The Best Citrus Swaps

The key to a good cake is to use citrus with a very thin pith

Kumquats are great for cooking whole, are delightfully tart, and would be a nice substitute. Key limes are also a good choice. They are juicy, tart, and boast the perfect thin pith you want in a whole citrus cake. 

Steer clear of lemons, limes, grapefruits, and navel oranges. Lemons and limes are incredibly sour and would need more sugar. Grapefruits and navel oranges both have very thick piths. 

Other Delicious Swaps That Work

  • As for the other ingredients, use equal amounts of almond flour instead of the all-purpose flour to make this a gluten-free dessert. 
  • I tested the cake with olive oil and found it too bitter when paired with the clementines. I suggest sticking with a neutral oil like vegetable or canola. 

Storage Instructions

For longer storage, leave off the whipped cream and simply wrap the cake with plastic wrap, then with foil. It can sit out at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for 1 week. 

If the whipped cream has already graced the top, flip a large mixing bowl over the cake so that it remains covered and refrigerate for up to 3 days. The whipped cream will lose some volume and seep into the cake making it a little denser, but rest assured it’ll be delicious. 

Whole Clementine Cake

PREP TIME 20 mins

COOK TIME 60 mins

COOL TIME 2 hrs

TOTAL TIME 3 hrs 20 mins

SERVINGS 10 to 12 servings

For a more subtle almond flavor, you can reduce the amount of almond extract in the batter to 1/2 teaspoon and in the whipped cream to 1/8 teaspoon.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the pan
  • 4 clementines, unpeeled and quartered (9 1/2 ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (349g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups (325g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the whipped cream:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Zest from 1 clementine (about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon almonds, roasted, salted, and chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set it aside.
  2. Puree the clementines: Place the clementines, oil, and milk into a food processor set with a blade attachment. Puree until completely smooth with just a few tiny pieces of zest visible. It should look like you zested the clementine with a rasp grater. The batter comes together in the food processor. I used a 14-cup food processor, and it didn’t overflow. Don’t use anything smaller than a 9-cup food processor. 
  3. Add the remaining wet ingredients: Add the sugar and process until just combined. Add the eggs, almond extract, and vanilla extract, and pulse 5 to 6 times until just combined. 
  4. Add the dry ingredients: Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and pulse until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed.
  5. Bake the cake: Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently tap the pan 3 times on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until the outer edges of the cake are golden brown, have slightly pulled away from the sides, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 55 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Cool the cake: Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely for about 2 hours. Place the wire rack on top of the pan and gently invert the cake onto it. Flip a cake stand or serving platter on the cake and gently invert it so that the cake sits on the platter right side-up.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Just before serving, combine the heavy cream, sugar, almond extract, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy and medium-stiff peaks have formed, 2 to 3 minutes. It should be soft, hold its shape pretty well, and the tip of the peak should curl over itself when the beater is lifted.
  8. Decorate the cake: When the cake is completely cooled, spoon the whipped cream in the center of the cake and use the back of the spoon to spread it over the top, creating swoops and leaving about a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with the clementine zest and the almonds. The cake can stay on the counter for up to 3 days without the whipped cream on top. Tightly wrap the cooled cake in plastic wrap and then again in foil. To refrigerate it, brush the top of the cake with simple syrup, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Boiled Clementine Cake

Do you know this boiled crescentine cake? It’s my grandma’s creation and it is incredibly delicious. I can’t even begin to describe the taste, but everyone that has tried it raves about its deliciousness. When you cut into it, you see a beautiful marbling of orange, pink and white throughout. This is an easy and light dessert that you can add fruit such as peaches or pineapple.

Ingredients

  • 5 Clementines
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 1/3 cup Almonds ground
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Baking Powder

Method

Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Butter and line an 8-inch (21 centimeter) springform pan with parchment paper. (I used a 9-inch, it worked fine.)
Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 50 minutes*, when a skewer will come out clean; you might have to cover the cake with foil after about 20 to 30 minutes to stop the top from over-browning.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack.

Easy Clementine Cake Recipe

Clementine cake with fennel seeds recipe
A dense and squidgy cake with the zesty flavour of clementine and almond 

There are several variations of this dense cake, which makes the most of winter’s citrus fruit glut. Some use olive oil but I prefer the softness of butter here.

Timings 

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves 

Six to eight 

Ingredients

  • 400g or 4 clementines, plus zest of ½ clementine
  • 200g light-brown caster sugar
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 50g coarse polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs

For the syrup

  • 70g light-brown caster sugar

Method

  • In a large pan, add the four clementines whole and cover them with water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the fruit and reserve 150ml of the water to use for the syrup.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Line a 23cm round cake tin with baking paper.
  • Place the boiled clementines in a food processor, along with the sugar and crushed fennel seeds, and blend into a purée. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened butter, ground almonds, polenta and baking powder, and mix.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, stirring between additions, then combine everything until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Lower the oven heat to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and bake for 50-55 minutes.
  • While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Add the sugar to the saved clementine-boiling water, bring it to the boil and let it simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes to thicken and reduce, before removing from the heat.
  • Insert a skewer or knife into the centre of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is baked. Switch off the oven and leave the cake inside for 5-6 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning it out on to a serving plate. Remove the baking paper.
  • Next, make holes all over the cake with a skewer or cocktail stick, and pour over the sugar syrup. Scatter the clementine zest all over the cake and serve on its own, or with vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt.

Health Benefits of Eating Cake

1. It helps beat depression and makes you happy

Mood is incredibly important when it comes to your health. Yet, it’s something we neglect. We read so much about what we need to eat, and what we need to do to keep ourselves healthy, but your happiness has a huge impact on your body.

When you are unhappy, you sleep less, you don’t take care of yourself, your energy levels drop, your skin suffers, and you can start to feel unwell. You’re certainly much less likely to exercise when you are unhappy. A soft slice of sponge cake and conversation with a good friend can make you happy. Don’t underestimate the power of a small treat.

2. It gives you energy

Carbohydrate is an excellent source of energy. Yes, overindulge, and you’ll get a horrible slump later on when your blood sugar drops, but for a quick boost, there’s not much better than a small, sugary snack. Sponge cake can literally keep you going and get you through a tough day.

3. It’s a great source of calcium and protein

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein, and butter, milk, and chocolate are all excellent sources of calcium. We hear a lot about how bad sugar is, and how we should cut our fat intake, but don’t forget, some of the ingredients in our favorite treats are essential to a healthy lifestyle. 

4. It can be full of vitamins

If you want to add even more goodness to your sponge cakes, add some fresh fruits. My chocolate and raspberry brownies are full of fresh raspberries, and my pear upside-down cake uses real, healthy pears.

5. It has good things in it

There are many health benefits of eating cake everyday. Chocolate cake? Chocolate-y antioxidants. Carrot cake? Vitamin-y carrots. Coffee and walnut cake? Omega-3 oil-y walnuts. Sultana scone? Sultana-y fibre. See what we’re doing here? Some cake ingredient PR. Try it; there’s always something you can spin as ‘a bit healthy’ – even E-number infested bright pink and yellow Battenburg ‘has almond in the marzipan’. You may also read about Health Benefits of Cheeseburgers

6. It can help you lose weight

That’s right! But you do have to eat it in the morning though, not your usual afternoon tea slot. Because a study a few years ago showed eating a dessert as part of a balanced 600-calorie breakfast helped dieters lose weight, with a lower chance of piling the pounds back on than those who were not having a sneaky breakfast pudding. It’s all about metabolism early in the day being more active than later.

More health benefits of eating cake everyday:

  1. It’s yummy!
  2. You can be at your good time while having a slice of sponge cake!
  3. Delicious cake can always makes you feel good!
  4. You are happier after eating sponge cake!
  5. No worries!
  6. Forget your diet, be happy with cakes!

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