Orange Clementine Cake

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This flavorful and light Orange Clementine Cake is the perfect way to end a meal. It can easily be made in a 9 inch springform pan with some simple modifications, so it is also great for entertaining! OMG!! Look at this Orange Clementine Cake! It looks amazing! I just want to jump into the screen and eat it all! I bet you’re wondering what’s so great about it, right? Well that’s simple, because this cake was made by the lovely Carla from the blog, Hidden Taste . Check out her post here. If a cake can make me want to bake, it must be good 🙂

Whole Clementine Cake

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.
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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.

Single slice of clementine cake on a small plate with a fork and the rest of the cake in the background
Simply Recipes / Cambrea Gordon
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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.

Clementine cake on essay with dessert plates on the side.
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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. 

Clementine Cake

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 2 hr 50 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 2 hr 40 min
  • Yield: 1 (8-inch) cake

Ingredients

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4 to 5 clementines (about 1 pound total weight)

6 eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/3 cups ground almonds

1 heaping teaspoon baking powderAdd to Shopping List

Directions

  1. 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).
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  4. Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines. I don’t like using the processor for this, and frankly, you can’t balk at a little light stirring.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you’ll probably have to cover the cake with foil after about 40 minutes to stop the top from burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the cake is cold, you can take it out of the pan. I think this is better a day after it’s made, but I don’t complain about eating it anytime.
  6. I’ve also made this with an equal weight of oranges and lemons, in which case I increase the sugar to 1 1/4 cups and slightly Anglicize it, too, by adding a glaze made of confectioners’ sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To maximize the amount of clementine flavor in the cake whole clementine oranges (fruit and peel) are pureed and added to the cake batter. Including the peel increases the intensity of the flavor and bright color of the cake. Sour cream creates a tender cake and creaming the butter and sugar contributes an open crumb.

Clementine Cake Slices on white dessert plates
Clementine Cake
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INGREDIENTS FOR THIS CLEMENTINE CAKE

This recipe for clementine cake has just a few ingredients. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Clementine Oranges. These oranges are a type of mandarin orange and are the major flavor component of this cake. Look for small mandarins that are still somewhat firm.
  • Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Flour provides the structure of the cake. I love using Bob’s Red Mill because it’s finely milled and helps produce a wonderful cake texture.
  • Granulated Sugar. Sugar adds moisture and sweetness.
  • Whole Eggs. The eggs should be at room temperature for this cake. Take the eggs out the night before if making this cake in the morning; or in the morning if making the cake later in the day.
  • Unsalted Butter. Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the recipe. The buttter should be at room temperature, which means 65-68F.
  • Sour Cream. Sour cream helps create a tender crumb and adds fat tothe cake.
  • Baking Powder. The baking powder helps the cake rise to develop a light crumb.
  • Kosher Salt

WHAT ARE CLEMENTINES

Clementines are a type of mandarin and mandarins are a type of orange. Mandarins are generally smaller and sweeter than oranges, a little flatter in shape, and they have thinner, looser skin that makes them easier to peel.

Clementines are the smallest type of mandarin orange. They are super sweet, seedless, and have red-orange skins that are smooth and shiny, which makes them perfect for using the whole fruit in this cake. The mandarins you see in grocery stores called Cuties and Sweeties are Clementines.

HOW TO MAKE THIS CAKE

Measure the flour, salt, and baking powder. Place them in a bowl and whisk to combine.

Dry Ingredients in Bowl - Flour, Salt an Baking Powder
Combine the Dry Ingredients and Whisk
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Weigh out 320 grams of whole clementines. Cut off the stem end, just enough to remove the stem, and then cut them in half. Place the clementines in the food processor and process until the peel is completely broken down into very small pieces. You made need to stop the food processor, scrape down the sides and then continue processing the clementines.

Clementine Oranges in Food Processor
Add Clementine Oranges to Food Processor
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Pour the clementine puree into a 2-cup measuring cup. You should have about 1-1/2 cups of puree. If you have more remove the excess. If you have less return the pulp to the food processor and add another mandarin. Process until everything is broken down.

Pureed Clementine Oranges in glass measuring cup
Pureed Clementine Oranges
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Add the sour cream to the clementine puree and whisk to combine. You should have a total of 2 cups of the clementine-sour cream mixture.

Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s lighter in color and looks creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Until all the eggs are incorporated.

Alternate the addition of the flour mixture and the clementine-sour cream mixture mixing on low after each addition.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix the batter on low for about 20 seconds to ensure everything is combined.

Clementine Cake Batter in bowl of stand mixer
Cake Batter
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HOW TO BAKE THE CAKE

I used the Brilliance Bundt Pan for this recipe, but you can use any bundt pan that has at least a 10 cup capacity. Spray the pan with Baker’s Joy or equivalent baking spray (do not use regular cooking spray).

Pour the batter into the pan and tap the pan on the counter lined with a dish towel to settle the cake into the groves. This step is really important if you’re using a bundt pan with an intricate design and lots of crevices.

Bake the cake until it the center temperature is 202F degrees and the cake has risen, set and firm to the touch. While the cake is baking it may rise a little over the edges of the bundt pan, but don’t worry, it won’t overflow and will settle back down.

Clementine Cake on a white plate surrounded by mandarin oranges
Clementine Cake
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When the cake is removed from the pan, the color can range from a golden brown to a dark brown. The cake may be darker than what’s pictured here because the amount of sugar in the mandarins will vary and your pan may conduct heat differently.

If the cake is darker in color that’s okay as long as it’s not overbaked.

PRO TIPS FOR MAKING THIS RECIPE

  • Measure your flour by weighing it. Weighing the flour is the best way to ensure you don’t have too much flour which will result in a dry cake or too little, which might cause the ake to collapse
  • Don’t overmix the cake batter. Overmixing could result in large holes or the development of a tunnel in the center of the cake.
  • Spray your bundt pan right before you add the batter so the spray doesn’t settle at the bottom of the pan. If using a combination of butter and flour to prep your pan instead of the baking spray do that step before you start mixing ingredients.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan about 15 minutes. If you remove the cake too soon it might stick to the pan and break as you invert it. If you let the cake sit too long it will stick to the pan and be hard to get out of the pan.
Clementine Cake on a white plate surrounded by mandarin oranges
Clementine Cake with Orange Glaze
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CLEMENTINE CAKE – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why did my cake sunk after removing it from the oven?

If the cake sunk it could be because not enough flour was added or because the cake was overmixed.

Why are there large holes in my cake?

If there are large holes in the cake it is most likely because the batter was overmixed. Overmixing can occur when you cream the butter and sugar too long, introducing more air into the cake.

Why did my cake stick to the pan?

Your cake stuck to the pan either because you did not use enough baking spray on the pan or you let it sit too long in the pan after it was removed from the oven.

Why is my cake tough and dense?

If your cake is tough and dense that may be caused by using cold eggs.

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