This cake is based on Claudia Roden’s famous orange & almond cake, where whole oranges – including skin and pith – are cooked for 2 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 one of the oranges with clementines for a milder citrus flavor and the other with carrots for the extra beta carotene and mellow sweetness they provide.
In an attempt to create a more complex flavor profile, I added 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 keep things low-glycemic, I’ve replaced the pound of sugar in Ms. Roden’s recipe (that’s nearly 3 tbsp sugar per slice!; yikes!) with a non-glycemic keto sweetener. Yes, these types of sweeteners are highly processed “food-like edible substance,” and thus not the sort of “real food” I normally recommend, but they make sweet treats accessible to people with diabetes and other metabolic health problems who would otherwise have to deprive themselves, or suffer the consequences of eating a highly sugary dessert. In fact, when using a keto sweetener, a slice of this delicious cake provides only 4g net carbs, making it perfect for anyone on a ketogenic or low-carbohydrate diet.
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 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
- 1 cup keto sweetener I used King Arthur Mills' Baking Sugar Alternative here; another keto sweetener I like to use is allulose
- 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 keto confectioner's (powdered) sugar store-bought or homemade; or regular 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 clementiens & 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 (place the whites in a medium mixing bowl), sweetener and powdered ginger. Process 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.
- 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.