Darling Clementine Cake
This recipe is an old favourite that I used to make a few times a week at Tischendorf – the cafe where I worked when I first moved to Berlin. When I began my vegan journey at the beginning of 2013 I tried to veganise it using flax eggs, but they weren’t strong enough to bind the cake together and I remember thinking that perhaps when it came to vegan baking, nut flour based cakes were out of the question. That perhaps, baked vegan goods had to contain a sticky or glutenous flour such as wheat or oat or chickpea or buckwheat. Oh how wrong I was.
The vegan egg replacer that has revolutionised vegan baking but that I never got around to trying until this chilly first week of Jan ’17, is Aquafaba. Aqua meaning water and faba meaning bean, or more specifically, the water from tinned beans or chickpeas. You can read all about it here.
Aquafaba is one of those things that seems way harder in your head than it actually is in real life. Since hearing about it, I’ve poured an unfathomable amount of aquafaba down my drain. Every time I poured, I knew that I should really keep it and try out this thing that everyone was talking about and that when I finally did, I would regret not doing it sooner. So I saved the water from tinned chickpeas a few times, but invariably it would end up down the drain a few days *ahem, weeks* later because I didn’t use it soon enough. And then clementines came into season and everything changed. I am an aquafaba convert. I mean, it’s actually free. As in, even if you aren’t vegan, you should be using it in your non-vegan baking because it saves you from spending unnecessary money on eggs. Crazy right??
This is by far the longest intro I have ever written to a recipe but I am beyond excited. I was when I got the cake out of the oven and I still am now, two nights later, as I finally sit down to share this recipe with you all. Enjoy!
For the cake:
About 500g clementines
3/4C (150g) sugar
3C (300g) almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
For the optional topping:
Half a lemon
1/4C (65g) raw sugar
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
For the cake:
Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a 20cm springform with baking paper.
Place the clementines in a medium sized saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes, drain and then cover with water again and boil for another 15 minutes. After the second boil, rinse the clementines with cold water. This seemingly strange process is what takes the bitterness out of the rind, allowing you to use the ENTIRE fruit in the next step.
Roughly chop your clementines, discarding any seeds, and then puree them until no large chunks remain.
Place the aquafaba and sugar in a large mixing bowl and using an electric beater, beat for 3-5 minutes. Of course, if you are fancy and have a proper mixer, use this instead. Once the mixture starts to turn white, add the pureed clementines and beat for another half minute or so then, add the almond meal, baking powder, vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
Pour the cake mixture into the lined springform pan, using a silicone spatula to scrape out all of the sweet gooey goodness and then smooth the top of the cake with the spatula – it’s ok if its a little rough.
Place in the oven for 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan before running a knife around the edge and gently opening the springform pan, or leave in the pan and add some extra sticky sweetness with the topping as directed below:
For the optional topping:
Peel one of the clementines and cut the peel into thin strips, about 1-2mm.
Juice the other clementine and the half lemon and pour the juice into a small saucepan with the strips of clementine skin, raw sugar and the leaves from the rosemary sprigs.
Place the saucepan on a medium-high heat, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for about 5 minutes, until all of the sugar is dissolved.
Using a toothpick, prick holes in the top of the cake and then gently pour the topping over the cake. Allow to settle for 30 minutes or so before running a knife around the edge and gently opening the springform pan.