My primary school had a ‘gold star’ system where we were quite literally given gold stick-on stars for our noses when we were good. Being a bit of a geek and an insufferable goody-two-shoes, I’d often be met at the school gates proudly sporting not one, but three stars. I never got on with teachers who rewarded the good with indifference and the bad with criticism. Rather than step up to the challenge I’d become disheartened and develop an acute attack of apathy. I probably wouldn’t do well in the army.
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Cakes are brilliant for a praise-craver. Aside from catastrophic mistakes, most minor baking errors can be covered up with enthusiastic icing, whipped cream and fruit. Being someone who will happily chomp on murky grey-green slurry if it tastes nice, I only recently understood the adage ‘to eat with your eyes’ when I realized a pleasantly presented meal is far more likely to evoke oohs and aahs of appreciation than if the same food is shoved unceremoniously in a bowl.
This Clementine cake is a little madam: pretty, girly, but actually quite difficult. I made it the afternoon before going out to celebrate a friend’s birthday and it only took a couple of drinks before I started shoving the picture on my phone at people and asking to be worshipped as a food goddess. I’m fun at a party.
I hadn’t realized the number of stages in the recipe when I’d glanced at it before buying ingredients. It has a lot. No flour, just loads and loads of ground almonds, polenta and some whisked egg-whites folded in to help it keep its structure and rise. Having not tried a flourless almond cake before this, I wasn’t sure if the crumbly texture was intentional but it was ok. Better when it had firmed up a bit from resting.
The smell as you simmer the Clementine slices in sugar syrup is beautiful, filling the kitchen with a faintly Christmassy aroma. I battled with reducing the syrup to the right consistency for pouring over the finished cake; firstly, making a sticky orange caramel gunge type thing, before re-heating with more water to rescue it. The orange cheesecake cream was, as you might guess, gorgeous. Dead easy too. This cake was nice, but I think its main impact was visual. A bit of a tease really.
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I got the recipe from BBC's GoodFood website, you can find it here...