Baking often seems magic to me, and perhaps no recipe more so than this cake. The instructions seem simply bizarre—boil fruit for two hours?? Then use the entire fruit, peel and all? And it only has five ingredients? What kind of monstrosity is this?

It’s an amazing monstrosity. And, provided you don’t let the water boil off and end up with a charred citrusy mess, it’s pretty hard to screw up.

At some point I want to explore all kinds of variations on this cake—meyer lemons, for sure, or maybe blood oranges. But as long as I can still find clementines at the grocery store, I’ll probably keep on making this cake out of clementines. The variations remain endless: I’ve added ground ginger in the past, and this time I added cardamom. It’s wonderful with orange liqueur sprinkled on top, with a glaze, or with whipped cream. This cake really just might be magic.


Clementine cake
From Nigella Lawson

4-5 clementines or other citrus fruit (about 1 lb total weight)
6 eggs
1 c plus 2 Tbs sugar (up to 1.25 c sugar if using lemons)
2 1/3 c ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Put the clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 hours. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Dump the clementines—skins, pith, fruit and all—and give a quick blitz in a food processor (or by hand, of course).  Add the other ingredients and pulse to a pulp.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan (line the sides, too).

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you’ll probably have to cover with foil after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack, but in the tin. When the cake’s cold, you can take it out of the tin. I think this is better a day after it’s made, but I don’t complain about eating it at any time.