Les Agrumes, or Citrus Fruits for cakes.

A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend made a cake which was very moist and absolutely delicious. I asked her for the recipe which turned out to be from Nigella Lawson. She is often referred to as a Chef, which she is not, she is a cook, just like Mary Berry or even me ! Actually she ( Nigella) said that her recipe came via Claudia Rodan and now here in the mountains I find yet another recipe for this cake, using citrus fruits. ( but also has some flour and butter).

I did in fact make this cake the other day ( before I found the French recipe version) and decided that, Why not use other citrus fruits? And so the cake I made was 50/50 clementines and lemons. I cut down on the sugar a tad, as I think it is also possible to do so.

This actually also necessary when baking at altitude and as our mountain home is at 3,800 feet, it really is an absolute necessity, otherwise a cake or bread will just not be right. Why? You might ask, well, lower air pressure at high elevations causes air bubbles trapped in the mixture to rise at a faster rate, so when this happens, cakes rise very fast and high…then fall. As a result, you end up with a dense, dry cake, or maybe one that looks cooked but in reality might just have a soggy bottom!

Other tips for baking at altitude :-

  1. Don’t over beat eggs
  2. Raise the oven temperature slightly if using baking powder by 25 degrees F
  3. Cakes tend to stick when baked at altitude, grease and flour the pan well
  4. Reduce the amount of baking powder
  5. Reduce the amount of sugar

The joy of this cake is that it does not have any flour or fat but is extremely moist. It can be made even more attractive and even more moist by spooning over a thin syrup made from icing sugar and lemon juice.

For the cake you will need

  1. about 4 large clementines or mixture of clementines and lemons
  2. 6 large eggs
  3. 200-225 grams caster sugar
  4. 250 grams fine ground almonds
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  • Set the oven at 5/190 C /170 C. Grease an 8 ” spring form pan and flour it, tipping excess flour out. ( I used a deep soufflé dish of the same dimensions, simply because I did not have a spring form pan AND I was not about to spend €35 + in my local Quincallerie ( hardware store).

    Put the fruit into a pan of boiling water and simmer for about 2 hours. Cut them half and remove any pips and then tip them into a food processor and blitz to make a purée. Add the rest of the ingredients and blitz again to mix. Add the cake mixture to the pan and bake for 50- mins to an hour. Test with a skewer inserted into the middle and if it comes out clean the cake is ready. Remove from oven release the spring form but leave the cake in the pan to cool and when cool carefully tip out the cake, onto a wire tray and using a second wire tray reverse this so that the cake is sitting right side up.

    It maybe eaten just as it is, with or without ice cream, and of course with a thin sugar glaze as above.

    I made a second version of this cake the other day, but it is a reminder that before setting out, check what ingredients are in the pantry. Consequently I made the cake with 50/50 ground almonds and grated / desiccated coconut. The result? Very moist, good taste if slightly bitty, because of the coconut and it did stick to the pan, despite grasping flouring etc! Nonetheless, himself has been eating it as his afternoon, après ski Gouter ( snack).

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