These cakes are a play on the original (and wonderful) Middle Eastern Orange Cake from the one and only Elizabeth David. Making use of seasonal mandarins and with the addition of coconut and polenta, this version is also flourless and gluten-free.
Preparation time: 20 minutes (+ 30–60 minutes simmering, cooling time and 20 minutes standing)
Baking time: 15–18 minutes
2 large mandarins (about 110 g/3¾ oz each)
Melted butter, to grease
100 g (31/2 oz/1 cup) almond meal
95 g (31/4 oz/1/2 cup) instant polenta
45 g (11/2 oz/1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, at room temperature
165 g (53/4 oz/3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
11/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract or essence
250 g (9 oz/2 cups) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar
11/2–2 tablespoons mandarin juice
1.Put the whole mandarins in a small saucepan, cover with water and set over high heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30–60 minutes, or until very soft when tested with a skewer. (You may need to place a small saucer over the mandarins to keep them submerged.) Remove the mandarins from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
2.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or 160°C (315°F) fan-forced. Brush a 12-hole 80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) capacity silicone or metal muffin tin with melted butter to grease. Quarter the mandarins and remove and discard the centre core and any seeds. Purée the skin and flesh in a small food processor or blender until smooth.
3.Put the almond meal, polenta, coconut and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix well to combine.
4.Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk on high speed until very thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted (about 3–4 minutes).
5.Add the mandarin purée to the egg mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold in until just combined. Add the polenta mixture and fold together until combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin holes (you can pour it from a jug or use a ladle).
6.Bake in the preheated oven for 15–18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the tin for 5 minutes. Use a palette knife to ease the cakes out and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
7.To make the Mandarin icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the juice until the mixture is smooth and has a thick coating consistency, adding a little more juice if too thick. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
8.Spread the tops of the cooled cakes with the icing. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.
These cakes will keep in an airtight container in a cool place (but not in the fridge) for up to 2 days.
Recipes and images from BakeClass by Anneka Manning (Murdoch Books) $45 available now in all good bookstores and online. Buy the book here.
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