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Clementine Almond Cake

Clementine Almond Cake

This cake, from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s “Jerusalem” cookbook, is a showstopper, but quite honestly, it looks better than it tastes. I’ve made it a couple of times now and it’s good, don’t get me wrong, but it could benefit from a few changes. 

First of all, that luscious-looking chocolate glaze is not the one that accompanied the Ottolenghi recipe. That one was fine, but a little too thin.
Ever since I discovered David Lebovitz’ easy chocolate sauce, (no cream, no butter) I’ve been sold on that one. The viscosity is just perfect for drizzling on cakes, on ice cream, and whatever else you can dream of. Plus the taste is terrific.
Another thing I’ll change when I make this again is to use almonds without “skins.” Sorry I don’t have an interior shot for you, but the color comes out a little too tan when I used almonds that had skins on them. The texture was a little coarse too. I might even try using almond flour instead of grinding the almonds myself, to perhaps obtain a softer crumb.
Lastly, next time I make this (and there will be a next time), I’ll add more peel and juice from the clementines. The cake needs a little more citrus flavor to give it more “zing.”
Even so, there were no complaints when I served this at a recent dinner. Maybe the guests were just being polite, but I don’t think so. Only a small sliver was left by the end of the night. Could you resist sinking a fork into this?


Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake with Chocolate Icing
Adapted from Jerusalem
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Serves 8 to 10
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
scant 2 cups sugar
grated zest and juice of 4 clementines (I would add juice and zest from at least five or six clementines)
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
5 eggs, beaten
 2-1/2 cups ground almonds (preferably without skins)
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, sifted
pinch of salt
long strips of orange zest to garnish (optional)
Chocolate Icing: (I prefer the chocolate sauce recipe below from David Lebovitz)
6 tablespoons butter, diced
5 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, broken up
2-1/2 teaspoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoon Cognac
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 9-1/2 inch springform pan with butter and line the sides and bottom with parchment paper.
Place the butter, 1-1/2 cups of the sugar, and both zests in a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat on low speed to combine everything well.  Do not work the mixture too much or incorporate too much air.  Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing until combined.
With the machine running, gradually add the eggs, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times as you go.  Add the remaining ground almonds, the flour, and the salt and beat until completely smooth.
Pour the cake batter into the pan and level it with an offset spatula.
Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes.  Check to see if it is ready by inserting a skewer into the center.  It should come out a little bit moist.
When the cake is almost done, place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the citrus juices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (the juices should total about 1/2 cup; remove some juice if needed).  When the syrup boils, remove it from the heat.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush it with the boiling syrup, making sure all the syrup soaks in.  Leave the cake to cool down completely in the pan before you remove it.  You can then serve it as it is, garnished with orange zest strips, or store it for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
If you wish to ice the cake, we recommend doing it on the day you want to serve it so the icing is fresh and shiny.  Put the butter, chocolate, and honey in a heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water).  Stir until everything is melted, then immediately remove from the heat and fold in the Cognac.  Pour the icing over the cooled cake, allowing it to dribble naturally down the sides without covering the cake completely.  Let the icing set and then garnish the center of the cake with the orange zest strips.
David Lebovitz’ chocolate sauce
(Note – you’ll have more than you need to decorate the cake, so store remainder in the fridge.)
The Best Chocolate Sauce
About 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (160 g) light corn syrup, agave nectar, or glucose
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • 2 ounces (55 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup (or agave or glucose), and cocoa powder.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.
Serving: You should let the Chocolate Sauce stand for a few hours before serving, which will give it time to thicken a bit.
Storage: Store the chocolate sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Rewarm before serving.


This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Io amo alla follia il fondente.. e questa torta così golosa è fantastica.. che profumo deve avere! Un bacione e un abbraccio! <3

  2. I did a double take when I saw this Linda, Wow, so regal looking! I do appreciate your honesty though and would try it with all your recommendations. The almond meal from Trader Joe's is just that, ground almonds so I would use for sure. Can't wait to make this. Do you think it would work with navel oranges? I have a whole box from Costco in my garage and I'm not going out in the polar vortex!

  3. Oh, how beautiful! Thanks also for the honest opinions. I bet that almond flour (almond meal) would indeed impart a more delicate crumb. I would certainly use almond meal made from blanched almonds. It is a much finer product. This is just such a beautiful cake. I'm sorry I was not among your dinner guests!

  4. You know this is my kind of cake!
    We went to a dinner party Sat. night and the hostess made everything from Jerusalem, including this exact cake.
    I was so excited, however, when I took a slice, it was dry as a bone.
    I am glad that YOU made this, because now I will bake it today! I almost said I wouldn't, but I trust you, and I love pretty much everything from that beautiful book!
    GORGEOUS photos! xo

  5. Well, yes, this is gorgeous cake. I appreciate your honest review. It sounds like your additions will be good ones. I have, yet, to check out that cookbook. Sigh, I'm on a cookbook diet… the kind that means quit buying so many!

  6. This is a beautiful looking cake, Linda. I use almond meal frequently due to gluten allergies in my family, so I'd like to adapt this cake to gluten free by making soem adjustments. David Lebovitz's chocolate sauce sounds delicious–I must try that also!

  7. Linda, you should have stuck with my citrus polenta cake! Seriously though, this is one gorgeous cake and I'll bet your idea of subbing almond flour for the ground almonds would take care of that texture issue. I don't have that Ottolenghi book. I have Plenty. I cooked one recipe from it and was really disappointed in it (it was a roasted cauliflower recipe). I know others love his recipes so I'll have to give them another try. They always sound and look so appealing. Cheers, D

  8. I've been looking and looking at this (and Nigella's "boiled" clementine cake). It's a showstopper. Since I eat clementines like candy, I was thinking this would be mighty fine. That's one gorgeous presentation.

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