First of all, I have to extend much gratitude to Yotam Ottolenghi for giving me permission to blog the baking of this cake.
I first came across this recipe when looking for details of the two Ottolenghi books – I chanced upon the blog post on the Ottolenghi website where Yotam admits that he is a cake geek…..and this recipe was hidden inside one of the comments. Also in one of the comments was mentioned an article that Yotam and Sami Tamimi wrote for the Guardian Newspaper back in 2008. As soon as I saw the photo at the top of the article, I knew I had to try and bake the cake……
- 200g Softened Unsalted Butter
- 380g Caster Sugar
- 4 Clementines, zest grated, and juiced (keep the zest and juice separate)
- 1 Lemon, zest grated and juiced (keep the zest and juice separate)
- 280g ground almonds
- 5 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 100g plain flour, sifted
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Orange zest, cut in strips, to garnish
For the chocolate icing (optional)
- 90g Unsalted Butter, diced
- 150g Dark Chocolate, broken up
- ½ tbsp Honey
- ½ tbsp Cognac (or in my case, Napoleon Brandy)
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3.
Lightly grease a 24cm spring-form tin, and line the sides and base with baking parchment. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate my 24cm tin, so I used a 20cm loose bottomed tin instead with a cake tin liner from Sainsburys, which gave my cake fluted sides.
Put the butter, 300g of the sugar and citrus zest in a bowl, and mix to combine.
Do not work the mix too much or incorporate much air.
Add half the ground almonds.
Continue mixing to fold through.
Add the eggs gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. This produces a lovely smooth cake batter.
Add the remaining ground almonds, flour and salt.
Work until the mix is smooth.
Spread the cake batter inside the tin and level with a palette knife. Bake for 50-60 minutes – a skewer should come out a little bit moist. Because I used a 20cm tin, it took longer at 85 minutes to cook my cake, but I did end up with a deeper cake.
When the cake is almost cooked, in a small pan bring to a boil the remaining sugar and citrus juices (the juices should add up to about 120ml; don’t use more).
My citrus juices came to about 150ml, and I think that if I use the 20cm tin again, I might use all of the juice next time and add an extra 20g of caster sugar (keeping the sugar/juice ratio the same) to allow the syrup to soak deeper into the cake.
Then remove from the heat at once.
The moment the cake comes out of the oven, brush it all over with the hot syrup, making sure it all soaks through.
Leave to cool down. You can serve it as it is, garnished with orange strips, or store for up to three days in an airtight container. As you can see, my cake was quite moist on top after brushing with the syrup. I then covered the cake gently with clingfilm and left to it to cool overnight so that I could cover it with the icing in the morning.
To make the icing, put the butter, chocolate and honey in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water.
Stir until all is melted, remove from the heat and stir in the cognac (or Brandy in my case).
Place the cooled cake on the plate or cake stand you will be serving it from.
Pour the icing slowly and evenly over the cool cake, allowing it to dribble naturally down the sides without covering the cake completely. Let the icing set, then garnish with strips of orange zest at the centre.
Having just devoured the last slice of this cake, I have to say that this recipe is definitely a keeper as far as my family is concerned, with a moist madeira-like consistency, and a very subtle orange/almond flavour. I will however use the correct size tin next time. I think that this will help with the “doming” I had on the cake, and I think that the syrup will seep more into the cake if I poke it with a skewer a bit.