The Best Holiday Cake
I bake all year long–from humble frumpy muffins to crazy-lady, six-layer, Dr. Seuss-ish birthday cakes for my kids. You name it, I’ll bake it. But I have to say, there is one thing that I bake that, yes, takes the cake: The very beloved Clementine Cake that I posted last year. This is the one thing I make that gets more recipe requests than anything else. Once someone makes it, it’s as if it becomes a member of their family–they adopt it, love it, care for it, and make room for it on the table year after year.
The recipe is inspired by a similar one from Nigella Lawson in How to Eat (Wiley, 2002), and it is a soul soothing thing–both to bake and to eat. The flourless cake has only five components–an ingredient list that short will bring a flutter to any baker’s heart! The main ingredients are almonds and clementines (a type of tangerine). How lovely is that? Almonds and clementines! Add some eggs to bind, some sweetener to sweeten, some baking powder to leaven–and voila, the best holiday cake.
While I do find the simplicity of the recipe super seductive, there is something undeniably comforting about the process–which involves simmering whole clementines on the stove for two hours. (What is it about simmering that feels so nice?) Once cooked, the clementines are added whole–no peeling or prep work, just plop them into the mix. Lastly, of course, is the finished product: An exceedingly moist cake that is wonderfully (but not too) dense, yet absolutely vibrant with citrus.
You can see the Clementine Cake recipe here. I really think you will love it. I will be making it this year, as always, but I have been tinkering around with another version as well that swaps out persimmons for the clementines. There is no simmering fruit for two hours, so it is a quicker cake–and although it’s wonderful, it gets the title of “The Second Best Holiday Cake,” as my heart remains with the darling clementines. Nonetheless, persimmons are really pretty special–I don’t know, maybe there can be two awards for “The Best Holiday Cake”?
Persimmon Almond Cake
1 pound very ripe persimmons
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (or Sucanat, read about natural sweeteners)
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 375F.
1. Slice the persimmons in half and scoop out the flesh, place in a food processor and briefly pulse, then add remaining ingredients and pulse to a pulp.
2. Oil an 8-inch springform pan and pour mixture in. It is a very, very wet batter.
3. After 40 minutes, cover with foil to prevent top from burning. Cake is done after about an hour total, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
4. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, remove from pan. It can be served immediately, but improves after one day.
5. Serve with creme fraiche, whipped cream or Greek yogurt if you like.