Clementine Cardamom Cake. Sephardic in origin and justifiably made famous by Claudia Roden, the boiled citrus-almond cake is a signature dish of the Middle Eastern sweet table. It keeps well for a couple of days – in fact it’s better the day after baking. This is our riff on the more familiar orange version.
4–5 medium clementines
butter, for greasing
390 g (14 oz) eggs (around 6)
200 g (7 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
250 g (9 oz) ground almonds
seeds from 30 cardamom pods, ground (or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Candied citrus zest, to decorate (optional)
Scented Orange Cream
125 ml (4 fl oz) thick (double/heavy) cream
80 g (2¾ oz) mascarpone
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
23 cm (9 in) springform or loose-based cake tin
Clementine Cardamom Cake Method
Put the clementines in a saucepan with enough cold water to barely cover them. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 1½–2 hours, or until completely tender. Drain the clementines and leave them to cool. When they are cold, cut them in half and remove any pips. Put them into a food processor and blitz to a very smooth purée. Weigh out 375 g (13 oz) of purée and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (320ºF) fan-forced/180ºC (350ºF). Grease the springform or loose-based cake tin and line the base of the tin with baking paper.
Put the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat them well. Add the clementine purée together with the remaining ingredients and mix everything together well.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 1 hour. You can test for doneness with a skewer if you like, although this is a wet cake and some of the batter will inevitably stick. Really, though, it’s hard to go wrong. What we would suggest, though, is checking on it after 40 minutes or so and cover with foil if the top looks as if it’s browning too fast.
While the cake is baking, prepare the orange cream. Combine the cream and mascarpone in a mixing bowl and whisk very gently to soft peaks. Fold in the orange zest, marmalade and orange blossom water with a large metal spoon and chill until required.
Once the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it in the tin on a wire rack to cool. Turn out when cold.
Serve the cake with the scented orange cream on the side, or dollop it on top to make a sort of impromptu icing. Garnish with candied citrus zest, if using.
This is an edited extract from SUQAR by Greg & Lucy Malouf published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $65 and is available in stores nationally.
Photographer: ©Alan Benson