This cake is based on Claudia Roden’s famous orange & almond cake, where whole oranges – including skin and pith – are cooked for two hours before being blended into a puree and mixed with the other ingredients.
While I’ve always loved the ingenious simplicity of this preparation, I find its bitter orange flavor overwhelming. I therefore decided to replace the oranges with clementines for a milder citrus flavor and add carrots for the extra beta carotene and mellow sweetness they provide.
In an attempt to create a more complex flavor profile, I also add cardamom pods, fresh, chopped ginger and a cinnamon stick to the clementine-and-carrot cooking water, lending a subtle chai aroma to the cake.
To limit the glycemic impact of this cake, I use as little sugar here as I think I can get away with; a few additional drops of liquid stevia can add a little extra sweetness, if needed. (I used to use a keto sweetener, allulose, in this recipe but no longer use it. In light of recent research casting doubt on on a different keto sweetener, erythritol, I feel uncomfortable using — or recommending — man-made, food-like substances until they are backed up by long-term safety data.)
Finally, what makes this cake Passover-appropriate is that it contains no added leavening agent — it’s the air whipped into the egg whites that makes it rise. (Alas, the airiness doesn’t last; the cake will collapse as it cools, but that simply adds to its deliciously creamy, almost mousse-y texture.)
Clementine & Carrot Passover Cake
- 4 small clementines totaling roughly 12 oz/300 g; untreated (organic), stems removed
- 8 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger chopped
- 2 medium carrots about 3.5 oz / 100 g, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces; no need to peel
- 6 large eggs yolks & whites separated
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- a few drops liquid stevia optional, as needed to round out the bitter citrus flavors
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- generous pinch salt
- 2 cups almond flour
- 2 tbsp sliced almonds make sure they are thinly sliced; thick almond slices mess up the cake’s surface when you cut it
- 1 tsp confectioner's (powdered) sugar
- Place the whole clementines in a small pot with a lid and cover with 1 inch of water. Add cardamom pods, chopped fresh ginger and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 40 minutes; set timer. When the timer rings, add the carrots and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Once the clementines and carrots are very soft (poke with a paring knife to check), lift them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate to cool; discard the water with the spices.
- While the clementines & carrots are cooking, line the base of a 9-inch springform with baking parchment. Grease the sides of the form with butter or oil. Preheat the oven to 325F and set a rack in the center of the oven.
- Once the clementines and carrots are cool enough to handle, cut the clementines in half horizontally and remove any seeds. Transfer clementines and carrots to a blender. Add the 6 egg yolks, sugar and powdered ginger (place the whites in a medium mixing bowl). Blend into a super-smooth puree, about 1-1½ minutes on high power. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, using a spatula to remove as much as the puree as you can from the blender.
- Using an electric whisk, beat the egg whites until they are stiff; add a generous pinch of salt half-way through whisking. Gently fold the egg whites into the clementine-carrot puree until well combined, taking care not to crush the air out of the whites.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform and slide into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake another 30 minutes until the middle is completely set. Remove and set aside to cool. The cake will collapse in the middle; that’s normal.
- Let the cake cool in the springform for an hour. Unclip the side to remove. To remove the baking parchment, loosely place an inverted plate over the top of the cake and flip them so the cake sits upside-down on the plate. Peel the parchment off the base of the cake and then flip back onto a serving plate. Once cooled, dust with icing sugar.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled, accompanied by with a blob of sour cream, rhubarb-strawberry compote or on its own. Covered with aluminum foil, this cake keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days.