Orange Scented Almond and Clementine Cake


Spring arrived right on the dot this year, during the first week of September.  The days have gradually warmed-up ever since, and the garden has begun to burst into life.

Spring heralds an end to long, slow cooked comfort food and open fires.  Winter woollies, flannel pyjamas and linen are washed and packed away for another year, and the windows and doors are flung open to air the house and revel in the fragrant fresh air.

Whilst I'm sad to bade winter farewell, spring is such an exciting time of year as it feels like everything is starting to come alive after laying dormant over the cool winter months - myself included!  The days are becoming a little longer, which means I have more time to spend in the garden, pottering around, preparing my spring/summer veggie garden, and enjoying the gentle warmth of the sun before the heat of summer will draw me back indoors.

Today was spent at home, relaxing and recharging the batteries.  Sundays are my baking day, so I decided to bake this lovely light cake in celebration of the beautiful Spring weather we've been enjoying lately.  If you can't find clementine's (a variety of mandarin) at the markets or shops, you can always substitute them with tangelos or oranges instead.

Ingredients
4 large eggs
3/4 cups caster sugar
2 1/4 cups almond meal
60 grams unsalted butter, melted (then allowed to cool to room temperature)
Finely grated zest of two Clementines, set aside
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Cream Filling
1 cup thickened cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon of the finely grated Clementine zest

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 160C (or 140C fan-forced).

Grease a 23cm springform cake tin with butter and line the base with a sheet of baking paper cut to size.

Separate the eggs, setting aside the yolks in a small bowl.  Place the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk using an electric mixer until they start to form soft peaks.

Slowly add the caster sugar to the egg whites, little by little, while constantly whisking, until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Continue to whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks.

Slowly whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, while constantly whisking.  Using a large spoon, gradually and gently fold in the almond meal, a third at a time, then the melted butter, two teaspoons of the grated clementine zest, and the orange blossom water.

Gently fold all ingredients together until well combined, and spoon into the cake tin.  Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the cake.

Place the cake into the centre of the oven and bake for 40 minutes.  Once it's ready, test the cake with a skewer inserted in the centre; if it comes out clean its ready, otherwise leave in the oven to bake for a further five minutes.

Once the cake has cooked, remove from the oven and allow it to cool completely in its cake tin, resting on a wire rack.

Cream Filling
Whisk the cream, sugar, vanilla paste and teaspoon of clementine zest until firm peaks form.

To serve
Slice the cake in half and carefully lift the top layer off and set aside.  Spread the cream filling over the bottom layer, then carefully place the top layer onto the filling to sandwich together.

Dust the cake with a little icing sugar, and decorate with a few slices of clementine and some edible flowers.

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