Low Carb Flourless Clementine Almond Cake

The day after making this cake, I forced myself to cut what was left into slices, wrap them individually and hide them in the back of the freezer. At which point I promptly pulled one slice back out of the freezer and ate it.

Because it is good!

This whole clementine cake is a classic Sicilian recipe, which I learned about by way of the incredible Nigella Lawson. Much like my whole orange bundt cake, this cake is made using whole clementines that have been boiled until tender and slumpy, then pureed into a smooth, intoxicatingly flavored paste.

Eggs, ground almonds, baking powder, and (in the original) sugar are added, then the whole thing bakes up into a moist, slightly spongy, and incredibly fragrant cake.

I think I mentioned earlier that I've been sticking to a fairly-strict low-carb diet in preparation for some upcoming on camera projects I have next month. The lack of sugar also helps me with my focus. (I have ADHD and the less refined sugar I consume, the better my brain works.)

Noting the lack of flour in this cake, I figured I could easily adjust it to be low-carb by replacing the sugar with a mix of erythritol and granulated Splenda. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol with a scale of 0 on the glycemic index (my favorite brand is Zero by Wholesome Sweeteners); this means it has the equivalent of no effect on your blood sugar levels. Wonderful for baking, it's best when paired with another sweetener in order to create a synergistic effect that is most pleasant in the final dish. (If you already have a preferred sweetener alternative you use for baking, feel free to use that instead--I'm sure it would be lovely with sucanat or coconut palm sugar, too; this is a very forgiving recipe as long as the volume stays about the same.)
Apart from the sugar swap, I also played with the recipe by adding a touch of kosher salt and a couple teaspoons of almond extract to play against the bitterness of the clementines.

While the cake baked, the aroma of citrus and almonds wafted out of the oven and filled our apartment like some kind of delicious, intoxicating room perfume. I spent the last few minutes of baking time dancing around in front of the oven as I impatiently waited for the timer to buzz.

The results were even better than I'd imagined. (Hence my aforementioned disciplinary measure.)

Spongy, not-too-sweet, and just a touch bitter in the absolute most perfect way possible. Eugene tasted it and pronounced it "a very sophisticated cake."

I absolutely agree.

This is a lovely everyday cake, best eaten straight out of hand while cuddled on the couch with a mug of something hot. And it is a stunning cake to serve company--particularly if you know your guests prefer subtle sweets.

I think it would also be a perfectly acceptable breakfast cake. As it contains no flour, it is also a lovely gluten-free cake recipe.

If you're not watching your sugar, you can of course stick to the original recipe; I share both options below.

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Flourless Clementine Almond Cake Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 10

4 clementines (about 13 oz)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup erythritol + 1/2 cup granulated Splenda OR 1 cup Swerve sweetener OR for a regular not-low-carb version, you can also use 1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups of ground almond meal (or 9oz of almonds finely ground)
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Place the clementines in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer 1 1/2 hours, until very tender. Remove from water, then chop and remove seeds. Add the remaining boiled clementine (everything but the pits) to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and line a springform baking pan (this is a sticky cake; you NEED a springform pan).

In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs for 5 minutes until very light and frothy. Add the sweetener or sugar, clementine puree, ground almonds, almond extract, salt, and baking powder and beat again for 5 more minutes until very light. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until set. Let cool in the pan, then unmold and serve.  I sprinkled it with some powdered sugar before serving, but it's also lovely plain.

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 220
Fat: 16.3g
Protein: 10.4g
Carbs (using Swerve): 10g (total) and 6g (net)
Carbs (using Splenda): 13g (total) and 9g (net)
Fiber: 4g

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