This cake has a dense, moist texture, and each mouthful is infused with vibrant, citrusy flavor. Top it with candied clementines or with a light shower of powdered sugar for deliciousness that will haunt you until you've polished off the last bite!
Citrusy cakes are my downfall, but when they are as delicious as this Clementine Cake, I'm not complaining.
I had been dreaming of this cake ever since I saw Nigella bake a version of it on television. I already have a couple of great orange cake recipes I go to over and over, like this Vegan Orange Cake and this Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake, but what really intrigued me about this clementine cake is the fact that it was gluten-free (although non-vegan versions usually include lots of eggs).
For my vegan clementine cake, which is also grain-free, I riffed off my own vegan berry almond flour cake recipe, which is also gluten-free and quite gorgeous. And to top it I made the easiest candied clementines. They are not necessary, but they are well worth the few minutes of hands-on time they require.
The cake itself couldn't be easier to make. I make the batter in the food processor, and it took me all of five minutes, once I had my clementines ready to use.
Bake this cake, for family, for friends, or just for yourself. Then come back and tell me all about it!
An orange cake typically uses the juice and sometimes the pulp of an orange, but what makes this clementine cake unique is that it uses the entire fruit, including peel, pith and pulp. You might think that would make the cake bitter, but not only does it not do that, the whole fruit infuses the entire cake with a divine citrus flavor. It's a great idea; kudos to the Sephardic Jews who were the first to create this exquisite cake.
Yes. Clementines are the smallest member of the mandarin family, which includes other citrus fruits. But where I live clementines and mandarins are labeled interchangeably. The fruit is typically small, with a thin skin. I wouldn't use navel or other large oranges in this recipe because the peel and pith would be tougher and more bitter.
You will need to cook the clementines before you add them to this cake and what that means is simply that you will need to put them in a saucepan, cover them with water, let them come to a boil, then simmer them for two hours. This will give the peel time to soften and become all squishy, making it easy to incorporate the whole mandarins into the cake.
I start out by placing the mandarins in the food processor, processing them to a pulp, and then just throwing in the rest of the ingredients and processing them until the batter is formed. The additional ingredients include almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, sugar, maple syrup (optional) and vanilla extract. That's it. The batter will be thick but runny enough to pour into the pan with a little help from the spatula.
I used a 9-inch round cake pan. It was not a springform pan, although if you have a springform pan, use it. You can use an 8-inch cake pan for a taller cake.
If you'd like to make this cake in a bundt pan, double the recipe.
These are not necessary--you can simply dust the cake with powdered sugar and it'll be delicious--but the candied clementines add a festive, pretty touch for so little work. All you need to do is slice the clementines, then cook them with sugar and water for an hour. Throw in a few crushed cardamom pods or a stick of cinnamon for more flavor. (Remember to start the candied clementines at the same time as you bake the cake, so they get ready simultaneously.) Then use the clementines for the cake and save the clementine-infused syrup for pancakes and waffles. It's a win.
Vegan Clementine Cake (Gluten-Free)
- 6 clementines (or mandarins)
- 2 cups almond flour (superfine)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup maple syrup (can just use an equal quantity of more sugar)
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For optional candied clementines topping
- 4 mandarins (thinly sliced)
- 2 cups sugar
- 1.5 cups water
- 4 green cardamom pods (crushed, optional)
- Place the whole clementines in a saucepan with a lid. Cover them with an inch of water and bring to a boil. Cover and let the mandarins continue to simmer on low heat for two hours until the entire fruit is very soft and pulpy.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once the fruit has cooled, discard the water they were cooked in and remove seeds from the fruit, if any. Place the mandarins in a food processor and process into a coarse puree.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients for the cake into the food processor. You can also do this in a bowl. Mix everything until well incorporated.
- Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper. A springform pan, is preferred, if you have one but you can use a regular cake pan.
- Scrape out the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top, if necessary, with a spatula.
- Place the cake in the oven and bake an hour or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
- Place the cake pan on a rack and let it cool about 30 minutes, then carefully unmold the cake, peel out the parchment paper, and continue cooling it on the rack.
Make the candied clementines
- Place the sugar, water and cardamom in a saucepan and bring it all to a boil.
- Add the thinly sliced clementines, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cover and cook for an hour. You can place a piece of parchment paper directly on the sugar syrup to keep the clementine slices immersed, then cover with the lid.
- Once the clementine slices have cooled, use them to decorate the clementine cake.
- Nutrition info is just for cake, doesn't include candied clementine topping
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Love this vegan clementine cake? Check out more vegan desserts on Holy Cow!