As many will be aware, Winter and early Spring are Citrus Fruit Season, which come in a multitude of varieties including Limes, Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruits and Mandarins (to name but just a few).
This recipe incorporates many quintessential Italian ingredients to create a soft, scrumptious cake which is certain to lift one’s spirit during the cold, dark days of Winter and can be tarted-up easily to be a heavenly after-dinner dessert.
It uses mandarins (which are abundant at present), olive oil, almond meal (flour) and mascarpone.
Makes 10 – 12 Serves
Ingredients – cake
1¼ cup self-raising flour (sifted)
1 cup ground almond meal (flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1¼ cup sugar
½ cup olive oil
½ cup mandarin juice
2 tablespoons mandarin zest
Ingredients – cream
200 grams mascarpone cheese
½ cup thickened cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients – mandarin syrup
1 cup mandarin juice
4 tablespoons sugar
splash of mandarin liqueur or orange brandy – optional
Ingredients – candied mandarins
6 mandarins (sliced thinly) *
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1. Pre-heat an oven to 180ᵒ C as well as butter a 24 cm spring-form cake tin and dust with plain flour.
2. Place the self-raising flour, almond meal, baking powder and sugar into a bowl and mix briefly.
3. Place the olive oil, mandarin juice, zest and eggs into another bowl and whisk the wet ingredients so they incorporate.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well until fully combined and a smooth batter is created.
5. Pour the batter mixture into the pre-buttered and dusted cake tin and place into the oven to cook for 35-40 minutes. Test if the cake is cooked with a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake.
6. Allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin.
7. To make the mascarpone cream, place the thickened cream, icing sugar and vanilla into a bowl and whisk until it thickens to a solid rather than liquid mass.
8. Add the mascarpone and fold the two together so they combine and place in the refrigerator until needed.
9. To make the mandarin syrup, place the juice, sugar and liqueur (if used) into a small pot and place onto the stove top at a medium temperature.
10. Heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then increase the temperature to high and allow it to boil and bubble for 6-8 minutes so it thickens slightly.
The mandarin syrup needs to reduce by approximately a third, so as to intensify the flavour.
11. For the candied mandarins, place the sugar and water into a pot and heat until all the sugar dissolves, stirring repeatedly.
12. Add the sliced mandarins* and heat until the pot comes to a boil once more before reducing to a light simmer and cooking for 30 minutes or so. The liquid should have reduced significantly and the mandarins should have a shiny and translucent appearance.
13. Remove from pot and allow to cool.
Although any mandarin can be used, I personally prefer clementine mandarins or tangerines, as these two mandarin sub-groups have a very thin skin and it is less bitterness than varieties such as Daisy or Imperial.
If you can’t get clementine or tangerine (not a tangelo) mandarins, you need to par-cook the fruit in some water for 10-15 minutes to remove some of the skin’s bitterness.
14. To serve the cake, cut into slices and place into an edged bowl rather than plate. Decorate with some of the candied mandarin slices, a big dollop of the cream and a good drizzle of the syrup. The cake, candied fruit and syrup should be a room temperature rather than chilled.