The Musette: tangerine and almond cake (gluten-free)

This gluten-free tangerine and almond cake is simply sensational! Moist, nutty and with a strong tangerine flavour this cake is also flourless, dairy and oil free. Serve simply with coffee or with whipped cream for an indulgent dessert.

I’ve come across various iterations of this recipe on numerous occasions. This particular cake is generally known as Passover dessert across the Mediterranean.

One very popular thing about this cake is its use of entire citrus fruits (skin and all) which are boiled until soft and then pureed in their entirety. Most of the recipes I’ve come across don’t use any regular flour or fat (oil, butter) at all which makes this lovely cake naturally gluten and dairy free and with no added fat – a bonus for my cycling friends.

This cake (or my take on it) has been very popular with a number of celebrity chefs including Nigella whose recipe for Clementine Cake can be found in her book How to Eat. My recipe more closely resembles that of Claudia Roden’s in The Essential Guide to Middle Eastern Cooking.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 450g/3 large organic tangerines, (choose ones with unblemished skins as the whole fruit is used in this recipe)
  • 250g (approx. 5 large) organic eggs
  • 250g (1 1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g (2 1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau or other orange flavoured liquer (optional)
  • icing (confectioner’s) sugar to serve

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Grease and line the base of a 2-ltr (1 lb) loaf tin.

2. Place the tangerines in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for about an hour, ensuring that they remain covered with water. Drain and cool.

3. Cut the tangerines into quarters, discard any seeds, then place the chunks into a blender and puree until smooth.

4. Beat the eggs with the sugar until thick, the whisk should leave ribbons. then add the orange puree, ground almonds, liquer and baking powder and mix well.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour. Leave the cake to firm up in the pan for 20 minutes then turn out, remove the baking paper and turn over to finish cooling right way up.

This cake definitely mellows with a little time and can be prepared well in advance.

6. To serve, sift icing sugar on top and add a dllop of whatever your heart desires: chantilly cream, Greek yoghurt, creme fraiche, orange flavoured whipped cream.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can use any citrus fruit, blood orange would be terrific, but something like grapefruit will require much longer cooking in water to sufficiently soften.

4. You can make these as cupcakes in which case they’d need around 40-45 minutes cooking time.

5. While this cake is perfect as is you could sprinkle on some toasted almond flakes.

6. The cake can be also prepared in advance as it keeps really well when chilled in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

7. Rather than boiling the citrus fruits, you could  do this quicker by using a microwave. Simply pierce your fruit a  few times with a fork (to prevent them from bursting) and put them in a large microwavable bowl with a little bit of water. Microwave on high for approx 10 minutes et voila!

8. To freeze, make sure your cake is completely cool before wrapping in clingfilm and then aluminium foil. Make sure to label it too if you don’t want to play “Freezer Roulette” later! Pop it in the freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost simply leave out on the kitchen worktop (counter) and once defrosted decorate as you wish.

The Musette: gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

My beloved expressed a desire for some chocolate cake and I decided to make a gluten and dairy-free version with some cooked basmati rice that I had in the fridge, using the same-weight method that one uses for pound cakes. I recall reading somewhere that you could substitute moist, cooked rice for butter.

Please note it makes a very liquid batter which you pour into the baking tin(s). This is what you need for cakes made with cocoa rather than melted chocolate otherwise they tend to be too dry. I speak from experience, bitter experience!  My beloved judged the cake(s) a success and this recipe will make a great addition to my arsenal of cyclist-friendly cakes.

Ingredients (makes 8 – 10 muffin-sized cakes or one loaf tin)

  • 250g (1 cup) cooked brown basmati rice, still nice and moist
  • 250g (1 cup) raw cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 6 medium-sized organic eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 2tsp powered espresso coffee
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Chocolate ganache

  • 100g (4 oz) dark (bitter-sweet) chocolate 70% cocoa
  • 100ml (7 tbsp) double cream or plant-based cream to keep it dairy free

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan).

2. Grease the base and sides of a baking tin. I typically use a disposable tin-foil one measuring 18cm x 23cm x  5cm (6” x 9” x 2″) – they’re great for storing the cakes in the freezer – which I line with a couple of strips of greaseproof paper to make it easier to remove the cake. In addition, I find it’s an easy size and shape to slice into fingers for serving. The French prefer to have a small taste of everything on offer! But, as these were for home consumption, I made muffin-sized cup cakes.

3. Combine and mix all the dry ingredients: ground almonds, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and coffee powder.

4. Combine and mix all the wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup.

5. Put the rice and sugar into the food processor and process until totally smooth.

6. Add all the wet and dry ingredients and process again until everything is incorporated and the batter smooth. Remember, this cake has no gluten, so it won’t get tough.

7. Pour batter into cake tin or cupcake/muffin papers (3/4 full) and bake for 40-45 minutes for cupcakes/ 60 minutes for cake until a skewer or tooth pick comes out clean. Leave the cake(s) to cool.

8. Heat the cream in a small saucepan or a jug in the microwave until warm but not boiling. Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Once the cakes have cooled, spread the ganache over them and leave it to harden slightly – if you can wait that long – before eating.

9. These can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container but they rarely last that long…………They’ll happily keep in the freezer for a couple of months without the ganache.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake(s) in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can use any type of rice (excl. wild rice), just so long as it’s still moist. If not, increase the amount of maple syrup, or equivalent.

4. For an even richer treat, spread a layer of salted caramel on the cake(s) before the ganache! This tends to work better on one large cake rather than the cupcakes.