‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ – what a fabulous movie that is! One of my favourites, staring Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty. An inspiring movie about finding the courage to leap into the extraordinary adventure that is life; and celebrates the delightfulness of ‘clementine cake’!!
Shirley Maclaine plays Walter’s mum in the movie, who bakes a killer clementine cake! This cake is featured in snippets throughout, but is more memorably know for it’s bartering powers with Warlords in Afghanistan!! You need to watch this movie!
So it was here, this movie, that inspired me to learn more about (a) clementines and (b) how to bake a ‘clementine cake’ – the one Walter Mitty loves each year for his birthday! Isn’t it amazing how a movie can do that – influence, inspire, motivate, educate! I knew clementine was a fruit, however, I was unaware of its family of origin. I had been privy to candied clementines working in a gourmet deli (twenty odd years ago), but that was it!
Clementines are, in a word, cute, and upon first glance, you might think that clementines are just tiny oranges. But the difference between clementines and oranges is more significant than size and adorableness. Yes, clementines are smaller than oranges, but they’re also sweeter with a thinner skin that’s generally easier to peel. Clementines are less acidic than oranges, as well. The reason for these difference between oranges and clementines is simple. Clementine and oranges are actually two different varieties of citrus fruits. Clementines are more closely related to mandarins, also known as tangerines, which are known “to be relatively small and flat, with a reddish, easily peeled rind”.
Tangerines and clementines are both hybrids of the small-sized mandarin. They’re the second largest cultivated group of citrus fruit after sweet oranges, which include larger sized varieties like navel and blood oranges. They share many of the same characteristics as other mandarins, such as a smaller size compared with navel oranges, few to no seeds, a sweet flavour, and a thin, soft skin that’s very easy to peel. Tangerines and clementines have a similar appearance, so it’s easy to get them confused or think they’re one and the same. The differing factor would simply be there name. Just like tangerines, clementines are more cold tolerant are therefore in abundance now for winter season.
The clementine cake recipe I share with you is a synergy of recipes that have come together! There is Nigella Lawson’s Clementine cake recipe with very minor adjustments by moi, and my ‘clementine glaze (or icing) recipe, along with candied clementine slices to decorate the top of your cake.
As Nigella perfectly puts it…”This is a glorious damp, dense, flourless cake. It tastes like one of those sponges you drench, while cooking, with syrup, only you don’t have to!”. I couldn’t agree more Nigella. And topped with my candied clementines & icing – it truly is heaven.
• 375g clementine (approx. 4)
• 6 large eggs
• 225g caster sugar
• 250g ground almond meal
• 1 tsp baking powder
For the Clementine Glaze:
• ½ cup clementine juice, strained
• 260g or 2 cups of pure icing sugar, sifted
• 50g or 3 tblsp of butter, softened to room temperature
For the candied Clementines:
• 3 clementines
• 270g or 2 cups of caster sugar
• 240ml or 1 cup water
- Place the clementine in a pan and cover with cold water, then bring to the boil, with a lid partially covering. Reduce the boil to a constant simmer and cook for 2 hours – ensuring there is water covering the clementine throughout the cooking duration. Drain the clementine, cut in half and allow to cool. Remove any pips.
- Preheat oven to convention setting 190°C (or 170°C fan force). Grease a 20cm springform cake tin with soft butter and line with baking paper.
- In a food processor, blitz the cooled clementine halves (skin, pith, fruit and all) until mashed up. Then add in all the other ingredients (eggs, caster sugar, ground almond meal, baking powder) and blitz until a batter is formed.
- (NOTE: if you don’t have a food processor, you can pulp the clementine by hand using a knife with a chopping action. You can then whisk the eggs in a large bowl by hand adding the castor sugar, almond meal and baking powder mixing well, then finally adding in the pulped clementine).
- Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in preheated oven for an hour or until a skewer can be removed clean. (NOTE: you may need to cover the top of the cake with a round piece of baking paper after 40 minutes or so if the top of the cake is burning).
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the cake tin. Once cooled, remove from cake tin and place on a wire rack ready to decorate with icing and candied clementines.
- * Clementine Glaze Method:
- In a medium to large sized bowl and using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix all ingredients together - note; you can adjust the clementine juice adding it in a little a time in order to create a loose but thick glaze which would be easily spreadable over the clementine cake.
- * Candied Clementine Method:
- Slice clementine reasonable thin – about 5mm thick.
- Place sliced clementines in a medium sized saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil on high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the clementines from this liquid.
- Place caster sugar and water in the saucepan and on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add in the clementine slices and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully pull the clementines out from the sugar syrup and lay on a tray lined with baking paper. Allow to cool.
- Decorate the top of the clementine cake with the clementine glaze and then finish with the slices of candied clementine.