Anyone who knows me is fully aware that I love brunch, and that I take it quite seriously. So last week when I was menu planning for the first brunch of spring, I was on the hunt for a light but unique dessert that the girls would love. While poking through my pantry to make sure I had basic baking items, I spotted a big bag of clementines my sister had brought home the night before. Clementines are delicious on their own, and quite the lovely flavor when it comes to a springtime dish so I decided that would be my inspiration.
Last year I bought the cookbook Ottolenghi and fell in love with the combinations of flavors the chef uses. While walking back over to my computer, I passed my shelf of cookbooks and spotted the name calling to me like a beacon. Remembering a cake I had once seen while looking for recipes, I googled till I found what I was looking for. A delicious little spongelike cake that isn’t heavy and uses one of my favorite combinations, fruit and nuts.
The original recipe calls for ground almonds, but I decided to use ground walnuts instead. Partly because that is the nut I had, but also because I adore walnuts. If you’d like to use almonds, go for it! For decorations, I thinly sliced clementines and wrapped them around the edge of the cake. You can also dust this with confectioners sugar, or like the original recipe, glaze it was a chocolate ganache.
It’s perfect for brunch, a picnic or a delicious treat when you find yourself with a big bag of clementines.
OTTOLENGHI’S CLEMENTINE AND ALMOND (WALNUT) CAKE
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 and 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Zest of 4-5 clementines (keep clementines for syrup step)
140 grams + 140 grams finely ground walnuts, separated
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Juice of the 4-5 used clementines + half of a lemon (use total of 1/2 cup max)1/3 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the softened butter, granulated sugar and zest from the 4-5 clementines. Mix on low just until combined.
Add 140 grams of the finely ground walnuts until combined into the butter mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly add the beaten eggs in the small amounts, letting the batter combine before adding more. Once all eggs have been added, add the remaining 140 grams ground walnuts, flour and salt. Stir until smooth.
Scrape batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth out with the back of a spoon.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until golden on top and cooked through, but still moist. When there’s 10 minutes left, start the syrup step below.
Add the juice of the 4-5 clementines used for zesting, plus the juice of half a lemon, into a small saucepan. Pour in the sugar and stir to combine. Heat on medium-low until boiling; remove from heat.
Once cake has cooked, remove from oven and immediately pour all the syrup on top while in the springform pan. (It may seem like a lot of syrup, but it will soak into the cake)
Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, unlatch the sides of the pan and transfer the cake on its parchment paper to a cooling rack. Service cool, or slightly warm.