Recipe: Clementine Syrup and Almond Cake
My sis should have her own baking blog. What she doesn’t know about making cakes…and yet I cannot bake to save my life. I think those genes were scattered to the four winds in our family. So, I am passing on a (prize-winning in a bake-off excuse me for boasting of the provenance) cake recipe. This clementine syrup and almond cake is a wonder to the taste buds. In essence, it is an enormous oversized great big Jaffa cake. But better.
For my non-UK visitors, a Jaffa cake is a little chocolate covered individual cookie with a very lovely light spongey base, a fabulous orange sticky preserve in the middle and covered in dark chocolate. They sell in the UK by the truckload–they have a silly kids website here.
My sis’s recipe is not 100% original, but it is tried, tested, tweaked and twiddled. The base is very moist and light, almondy and gorgeous and soaked in a sweet citrus syrup, then coated with a deeply rich chocolate frosting. The link to the original recipe is here. People at her last office used to sidle up to her desk and try to sweet-talk her into making this for high day and holiday celebrations, and then they just started outright emailing their requests. It’s really that good.
- 200g unsalted Butter
- 380g Caster Sugar
- 4 sweet Clementine oranges, zest grated, and juiced
- Grated zest and juice of 1 medium-sized Lemon
- 280g ground Almonds
- 5 medium-sized Eggs, beaten
- 100g plain Flour, sifted
- Scant, meagre, tiny pinch of Salt
- Candied Orange Slices to decorate, or feel free to be creative!
For the chocolate topping/frosting:
- 90g unsalted Butter, cut into smallish dice
- 150g 70% dark Chocolate, broken up
- ½ tbsp honey
- ½ tbsp cognac
Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/325 degrees Farenheit. Lightly grease a 24cm baking tin, I think this is equates to a 10 inch round baking pan. Line both the sides and base with baking parchment.
Keep back 80g of sugar for the syrup. Combine the butter, the remaining sugar and the clementine and lemon zest in a bowl. Do not work the mix too vigorously or incorporate too much air, i.e. this means thoroughly stirring rather than whipping the mix. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing well to fold through all the ingredients. Next, add the eggs slowly, making sure they are well worked into the mixture. Add the remaining almonds, the flour and salt and work until the mix is evenly combined.
Scoop the cake mix inside the tin and level out. Bake for 50-60 minutes and make sure to turn the cake a couple of times in the oven to ensure even baking, it seems to maybe want to brown unevenly, we think this is the ratio of almonds to flour that could be behind this, but are open to other explanations. A skewer inserted should come out moist when the cake is done but not clinging with raw cake batter obviously.
Five minutes from the end of the cake cooking time, boil the remaining sugar and the citrus juices (approx 100-120 ml in volume but not more) in a little saucepan until they form a thin syrup. Do not use too much citrus juice or the syrup will be too runny. Remove from the heat. Take the cake out of the oven, and immediately spoon all over and brush in the hot syrup mixture, making sure it all soaks through. Attempt to do this as evenly as you can as it is well worth the effort to spread out that citrussy lovely taste. Allow the cake to cool.
To make the chocolate topping/frosting, put the butter, chocolate and honey in a heat-proof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until all is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the cognac. Pour the chocolate topping over the cooled cake, distributing the topping how you like it: either let it dribble down in an artistic and rustic way, or smooth it round the sides for a more polished look. When the topping has set (it is a soft mix though remember) decorate to your taste. Long curly strips of orange zest could be nice, slices of candied orange segments or strips of candied orange would be fab, edible gold stars like my sis recently tried, or just let your imagination fly.
And all I have to do now is to persuade her to share the even more famous Coffee and Walnut Cake recipe. She brought that cake round our house in the summer as a gift, and my hub and myself ate it, ALL by ourselves. Two people, one cake. Jeez it was embarrassing.