This seasonal spiced clementine cake has a lovely moist texture, and paired with the silky cranberry meringue buttercream, would make a lovely light alternative to traditionally heavier Christmas cakes and desserts. Decorated with pistachio macarons and sugared cranberries it really is as beautiful as it is delicious!
This clementine cake recipe has quite a few components but can also be simplified for those more short on time. The cake itself is so easy to make and would look fabulous simply sandwiched together with the meringue buttercream icing and decorated with a smattering of cranberries and crushed pistachios.
– 3 clementines
– 2 star anise
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 275g self-raising flour
– 3 tsp baking powder
– 275g caster sugar
– 225g butter
– 4 eggs
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– 225g cranberries
– 1/2 cup water
– 140g caster sugar
– Zest 1 orange
– Zest 1 lemon
– 3 egg yolks (keep the whites for the macarons)
– 1 egg
– 60g unsalted butter
Cranberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
– 150g egg white
– 250g caster sugar
– 340g unsalted butter, cubed
– 3-4 tbsp cranberry curd to taste
– pinch salt
Pistachio Macarons (optional)
– 65g icing sugar
– 45g ground almonds
– 20g shelled pistachios
– 45g caster sugar
– 50g egg white (approx two egg whites)
– Green paste food colour
1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/320F/gas mark 3. Grease and line two 6″ round cake tins.
2. Place the whole clementines (including skin) in a saucepan with the star anise and cinnamon stick, cover with boiling water and simmer for approx 20 mins until the skins are soft. Leave to cool and infuse. Remove the clementines from the water, cut in half, remove any pips and then process in a food processor until pulpy.
3. Add the remaining cake ingredients to the clementines in the food processor and process until smooth and well mixed. Avoid overmixing.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 30-40 mins until cake is springy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the cranberry curd, place the cranberries and water in a saucepan, cover and heat gently until cranberries have burst and the liquid bubbles. Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl and press through the cranberry pulp. Return the pulp to the saucepan and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Add orange and lemon zest and allow to cool slightly.
6. Whisk the egg yolks and whole egg together and then pour into the cranberry mixture, whisking until combined. Stir over a medium heat using a wooden spoon until it has thickened and easily coats the back of a spoon (approx. 8-10mins). Pour into sterilised jars and place in the fridge once cool to set. This will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge so use any leftovers as you see fit!
7. To make the cranberry swiss meringue buttercream, wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice. Add egg whites and caster sugar and place over a pan of simmering water, whisking constantly until it reaches 160°F. If you do not have a sugar thermometer heat until sugar has completely dissolved and mixture is hot.
8. Place the bowl on an electric stand mixer and whisk until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch, approx 10mins. Change to a paddle attachment. Slowly add the butter in cubes one at a time and beat until incorporated. Continue to beat until it has reached a smooth silky texture. Add the cranberry curd to taste and mix to combine. If the buttercream is too runny, place in the fridge to firm up slightly.
9. To make the pistachio macarons, process the icing sugar, ground almonds and pistachios in a processor until fine. Sieve into a clean bowl and discard any larger particles.
10. Wipe the inside of a metal bowl and an electric handheld whisk with some lemon juice and paper towel to remove any traces of grease. Weigh the egg white into the bowl and whisk on low speed until foamy. Increase the speed and whisk until you see trails in the egg white. Add the caster sugar in thirds, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until just before stiff peaks form. Add desired amount of green food colouring before continuing to whisk to stiff peaks.
11. Add half the almond pistachio mixture to the egg white and fold in before adding the remaining half. Gently fold the mixture to remove some of the air until it has a flow and consistency of lava.
12. Pour the macaron mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Fix some baking paper onto a tray with a dot of the mixture (or use a silicone baking mat) and pipe rounds. You should get approx 30 macaron shells. Bang the tray firmly on the counter to remove any excess air bubbles. Leave the macarons to form a ‘skin’ which takes approximately 30mins depending on humidity. You can test for this by lightly touching the top of a macaron, your finger should come away clean. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 160°C.
13. When a skin has formed on the macarons, bake for 14-16mins turning the tray around half-way through. They are cooked when you can lightly push them and the top doesn’t move from the feet. Leave to cool completely on the tray before removing.
14. To assemble the cake, level each cake with a cake leveller or sharp knife and then cut each cake in two so you have four layers. Place the base of the first layer on a cake stand or plate. Using a piping bag, pipe a layer of buttercream over the top and smooth with a palette knife. Place the next cake layer on top. Repeat with the remaining layers, inverting the base layer of the second cake so the cake crumb is on top. Place the cake in the fridge to firm up slightly.
15. To coat the outside of the cake, crumb coat the cake by spreading a small amount of buttercream over the cake and then scraping off any excess before refrigerating again until firm. Now feel free to ice in your favourite texture, rough, smooth, patterned! To achieve a smooth buttercream finish, spread buttercream over the sides of the cake using a palette knife, then scrap off excess with a cake scraper until smooth. Refrigerate and repeat if required to fill in any imperfections. For the top, use a palette knife to level the buttercream at the edge before filling in the centre. Refrigerate until firm.
16. Fill the pistachio macarons with some of the buttercream (or your preferred buttercream flavour) and fix on the cake with a dot of buttercream. Decorate with some crushed pistachios and sugared cranberries as you wish!
Cove Cake Design was founded in 2013 by Suzanne Brady. A former scientist, with a PhD in Biochemistry followed by a career working for Cancer Research UK, Suzanne discovered a natural love of baking after becoming a full-time mother in 2008. A keen student, she completed a Professional Masters Certificate in Cake Decorating, Royal Icing and Sugar Flower Techniques at Squires International School and a PME Knightsbridge Diploma in Sugar Flowers. With an eye for perfection Suzanne subsequently honed her skills with online and self-taught techniques. And so in 2013 Cove Cake Design, a nod to the stunning Sandycove area of Dublin where Suzanne and her family call home, began its baking journey.
From the outset Suzanne’s ethos has been to work closely with each client, drawing on a wide source of inspiration to create a bespoke cake unique to each occasion. With a delectable menu reflecting the quality of ingredients sourced and the design precision with which Suzanne decorates each cake it is unsurprising that Cove Cake Design has flourished into a thriving home business whose cakes have been recognised and featured in numerous magazines and blogs from around the world.