Clementine Cake.

Rosy lips above the water
Blowing bubbles mighty fine
But, alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.

Maybe Clementine had a slice of this dense, nutty-sweet almond cake in her pocket the day she “fell into the foaming brine,”┬ábecause she sank straight to the bottom, poor thing. This cake is named after the fruit, not the miner’s daughter, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less melodious. And as it bakes, the whole house smells wonderfully of toasty almonds and fresh citrus.

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups raw almonds
6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1 cup sugar
3 clementines
splash of vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a food processor, blitz almonds to about the consistency of wet sand. A few small chunks are okay.

Combine sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl and beat until they form a pale cream.

Add vanilla, the zest of the 3 clementines, and the juice of one of them (save the other two), and stir until combined.

Then stir in the ground almonds.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Take a spoonful of the whites and stir it into the yolk mixture to even out the consistencies a bit.

Then, gently fold in the whites until combined.

Pour into greased spring-form pan and bake for 40 minutes, until cake has set and is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before icing.

In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and juice of the remaining two clementines, adding more powdered sugar as needed to reach desired consistency. Spoon or drizzle icing over the slightly cooled cake and allow it to soak in. Just before serving, dust cake with powdered sugar. Enjoy a big slice, but wait an hour before going swimming, lest you end up like poor Clementine.

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Sicilian Orange Cake.

This was one of those recipes that I kept seeing all over the food blog world, and I was just dying to try it. I’m so glad I did! To the original recipe, I added a splash of vanilla extract (why not?), and to make it gluten-free at the request of a friend, I used brown rice flour instead of all-purpose flour. Either works just fine, but I found that the brown rice flour makes the cake surprisingly soft and moist, so I definitely recommend it if you can get some. A note about the final steps of this recipe: I made a rookie mistake and didn’t grease my pan enough, so I was left with a stubbornly adherent cake that refused to come out in one piece. I pieced it together as best I could and made the most of the broken bits–but your cake SHOULD look about 1000 times prettier than mine does! Good grief.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
1 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 orange
splash of vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease cake pan.

Using the whisk attachment on your mixer (or, whisking by hand), cream together butter and sugar for 4 minutes. Mixing well between each addition, add the first 3 eggs, one at a time. Add a tablespoon of the flour before you add the last egg, and mix well. I find that using a whisk (rather than a spoon or spatula) throughout the whole mixing process works best.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest, and mix. Then slowly mix in the vanilla and half of the orange juice, setting the other half of the OJ aside for the glaze.

Spread the batter into your pan and bake on the middle rack for about 40 minutes.

If you, like I did, find that the sides of the cake start to brown a bit faster than the middle can keep up with, just loosely cover the pan with foil. Remove the baked cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Or, if you mess up like I did, cool the fragments of your cake on a cooling rack and go cry in the corner until they’re cool enough to glaze…

Pour the remaining orange juice into a bowl and add the powdered sugar. Stir until smooth, adding more sugar as needed until you reach desired consistency. With the cake on your serving plate, spoon or spread the glaze, allowing it to drip over the sides. Let the cake sit and soak up the glaze for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and garnish with more orange zest.

Since I ended up with my cake stuck to the bottom of the pan, here’s how I made the best of it: I scraped the bottom of the pan to get all the little browned bits, and I sprinkled them over the iced cake like a crumb topping. Maybe I should call it “Sicilian Orange Inadvertently-Crumb Cake.”