Gluten Free Citrus Cake
**Heads up! You'll need quite a bit of time for this cake - around 3.5 hours**
It’s been a while! After an intensely tumultuous few months (when is life not, really?), I’m sending out all the vibes I can for some peace, calm and time in the kitchen to get back into a recipe-flow. The ideas are always there, hovering about, waiting to be created… perhaps one day I’ll have a team who can bring them all to life - I can dream! ;-)
This is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake (here's the original) - a famously easy and versatile cake that only gets better as the days go by (how many glutenous cakes can do that?!). It is an absolutely gorgeous, syrup-y cake, without actually involving any syrup, and a sure fire crowd-pleaser.
Clementines are essentially a seedless mandarin, which is why it’s fabulous to use in this recipe where the whole fruit is boiled and pureed (lots of seeds could make the puree quite bitter). Unfortunately for us, clementines are rare here in Australia, but I find tangelos are a beautiful substitute... also, I really, really like tangelos. So much so that I may or may not have bought an extra one just to eat while I was baking... ;-)
Tangelos are a cross between a tangerine, grapefruit and orange, giving a lovely sourish edge to a relatively sweet cake, and typically have very few seeds (if any), just like clementines.
You can also make this with mandarins, oranges or lemons - just be sure to rescue as many pips as you can after you’ve boiled the fruit, and before blitzing. If using lemon, you could increase the sugar or whatever you're using to sweeten the cake to 250g if you're worried about the sourness... but honestly, I don't mind a little zing.
When selecting tangelos (or whichever citrus you’re using), try to pick ones with tighter skin, as this will usually mean thinner skin. Thick-skinned citrus is likely to have more pith, resulting in a more bitter taste once the fruit is pureed.
I made two of these cakes to create a baby shower cake for my very, VERY dear friend Vicky, who is excitedly ready to pop with her little man in the not-too-distant future. I'm not much of a cake decorator - I'm better at the baking (and eating) - but I loved giving it a go! Vicky is strictly gluten-fee, and it was my absolutely pleasure, of course, to accomodate this ;-)
Ingredients (make two individual batches if you want to create a stacked cake like the one above)
375g tangelos or other citrus (about 2)
225g white sugar (I know, I know! See note)**
250g almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it's the gluten free type)
- Place the tangelos in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours.
- Drain and cut the tangelos in half, removing any pips. Place in a food processor and blitz.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Grease and line an 20cm/8-inch springform tin (you could use a larger tin for a lower, wider cake - just keep an eye on it when it's cooking and adjust the timing if needed).
- Using an electric mixer or by hand, lightly beat the eggs, then add the sugar. Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix to combine. Add the pureed tangelos.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40mins to 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Check the cake halfway through - if it’s cooking too quickly on the surface, place some baking paper over the top of the cake for the remaining baking time.
- Allow the cake to cool on a rack, still in the tin. Remove from the tin once it’s cool. This helps stop the centre of the cake from drooping.
- To create a stacked cake as I did, repeat steps 1-7 with another batch of ingredients. If required, use a clean sharp knife to level out the surface of the cakes before stacking them on top of each other. Fill and ice as you wish.
Try using this labna-style cream cheese in place of icing, which can also be used as a filling between the two cakes. It's a beautiful, yoghurt-y coating that complements the citrus perfectly. Use an electric mixer to combine it with a little coconut sugar (about 1/4 cup) for sweetness, and 1/2 tsp tapioca flour to thicken it up a little. The thicker your icing, the better it's going to stay on your cake!
**Note: It's a very rare occasion that I use processed white sugar in ANY recipe (I can hear you gasping from here!! ;-)), but I have done so in this case so as not to stray too far from Nigella’s gorgeous original. The woman knows what she's talking about. So, if you make the cake this way, keep in mind that although it's gluten free, it's really more a ’sometimes treat’ rather than a healthy alternative. However, if you'd like to give it a go without the white stuff, try one of these alternatives in place of the sugar:
- Rapadura: Probably the best white sugar alternative for baking, as it won’t alter the texture or consistency, but it does have a richer flavour. Use it 1:1.
- Coconut Sugar: Again, it has a richer, deeper flavour, and a lower GI rating than refined white sugar. Many sources say you can use this 1:1 in baking, but personally I find it to be very sweet, so I prefer to use about 3/4 of what the recipe calls for.
- Banana Sugar: To be honest, I haven’t tried it but I am absolutely DYING to! So I’m including it on this list in the hope that one of you give it a go, and can tell me if it’s any good (sneaky, sneaky…). I have an inkling that it would be absolutely delicious in this!
- Stevia: I personally don’t care for the taste of stevia - it always tastes a little processed to me - but if you’re looking for rock-bottom calories and low GI, it can’t be beaten.
Lastly - I would not recommend substituting a fruit (like dates or apple puree) or syrup alternatives (like brown rice syrup or agave) for sugar in this particular recipe, as it’s already a very damp mixture and these options will almost certainly jeopardise the texture and consistency of this cake.