|I love watching cookery programs with celebrity chefs making cooking look so easy and fun. Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to watch TV, so I get the tele going on in the back ground, just in case something gets my attention, while I am occupied with some other work around the house. But very often by the time I realise that I want to see what’s going on on the screen, it is too late to make a note of all the ingredients and quantities that have been used for one or the other recipe. Thanks to the internet, I can look them up, say, on the BBC Food website. Of course before BBC started posting the recipes from their food programs on the internet it was a different story: I would scribble a few words that I had time to write on my recipe “paper”, usually just most of the ingredients and that would have been all. I think, that it actually worked to my advantage, as I came up with some recipes of my own, using the ideas from the cookery programs. Here is one example.|
|Once the clementines , mandarins, oranges are in season and the shops are absolutely filled with all different varieties of citrus, they go straight away on our guests‘ table as part of breakfast or dinner. Yes, the fruit basket looks so appetizing and pretty at first, but after a few days the fruit, that did not get eaten, become looking “sad and tired”, not so fresh now! Most of us would probably chuck them in the bin: gone, done and dusted! So did I until a few years ago. Having one of the cookery channels on, I briefly saw Nigella Lawson making a flourless cake with clementines. Of course, as usual, I did not have any paper ready to write it on, so, by the time I found something, all that I could make a note of was just an approximate list of the ingredients, no quantities, and the approximate method.|
|Two or three months have gone and Christmas was on the door step. We had a few guests at La Croix du Reh (our B&B for anyone who does not know), most of them French. And surprise! Surprise! Most of the beautiful fruits have not been touched. I must admit, that before we moved to France I thought that all French people ate lots of fresh fruits and veggies (of course, not as much as meat and cheese). But to my disappointment majority of our French guests are not very kin neither on fruit nor vegetables. The most eaten fruit at breakfast time is kiwi. The most eaten vegetable at dinner is potato, then haricot vert ( green beans), then tomatoes. But that is another story. Coming back to citrus fruit: I finally had a chance to make something out of my tired clementines, using some odd notes of Nigella’s recipe. Probably due to her book being published or for some other reason, I could not find the recipe on the internet. It really did not matter because I decided to have a go and as I was doing it I added in a couple more ingredients and ideas. Here is what I came up with:|
Flourless citrus cake
• 400 gr whole clementines , mandarins or oranges
• 5 medium eggs
• 200 gr light brown or white sugar ( preferably castor)
• 100 gr melted butter
• 200 gr Ground almonds
• 1 1/2 ts baking powder
• 1 tbs 5 spice – makes it totally Christmassy!
• A few whole blanched or flaked almonds sprinkled or arranged on the top of the cake before baking also makes a nice decoration
1. Put the whole citrus fruits in a pan with enough water just to cover the fruits. Cover the pan with a lid and bring the fruits to the boil. Simmer the fruits for about 1h (1h30min, if using oranges, depending on the size of the fruit)
2. After the fruits have been cooked, drain them and leave to cool slightly until cool enough to handle, then cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Sometimes there are no pips, which makes it easier, of course, but it is always better to check. Put still warm clementine halves (with skins, pith and all) in a food processor together with melted butter and give it a good wizz. I prefer to blitz it until the fruit become a nice smooth puree without large chunks of skin, but just tiny bright orange pieces.
|3. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
4. Add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix well.
|5. Butter and line a 21cm springform tin or, if you are like me and prefer to make baking easier, use one of those nice silicone forms that don’t need greasing or lining, and pour the cake mixture into it. Bake the cake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until it feels more or less firm to touch. If it starts burning on the top, cover with foil or greaseproof paper. It is possible to use smaller size or individual cake molds. In that case just divide the mixture between the molds and cook for a shorter time, checking the firmness of the cakes from time to time.|
|6. Don’t remove the cake from the oven, but turn the oven off and leave the cake inside the closed oven to cool until the morning or for a good couple of hours. When the cake is cold, take it out of the tin (but not before it is totally cold!)|
|Now you can indulge yourself: strong but not overpowering citrus flavour, so dense but soft and moist ….hmmm Just perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea or dinner dessert with some cream or fruity sauce. Enjoy!|
|I have served it a few times with strawberry kisel (russian dessert made out the fruit juice and corn flour), which makes a nice change to cream|
| PS: I eventually found Nigella’s recipe on the internet . OK, it is close but not exactly the same! Check it out:
Nigella’s Clementine cake
As featured in “How to eat”
• 375 gram(s) clementines
• 6 medium egg(s)
• 225 gram(s) white sugar
• 250 gram(s) Ground almonds
• 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1. 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). Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190ºC. Butter and line a 21cm Springform tin.
2. You can then add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix. Or, you can beat the eggs by hand adding the sugar, almonds and baking powder, mixing well, then finally adding the pulped oranges.
3. 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 or greaseproof 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.
4. I’ve also made this with an equal weight of oranges, and with lemons, in which case I increase the sugar to 250g and slightly anglicise it, too, by adding a glaze made of icing sugar mixed to a paste with lemon juice and a little water.