I seem to be having a serious citrus binge at the moment. A week or so back, I made an amazingly moist Orange & Raspberry Swirl Bundt cake which was just delicious. And we seem to be munching wonderfully sweet blood oranges by the case-load….. There is some seriously gorgeous citrus fruit around at the moment and we need to make the most of it.
There is something quite addictive about a good citrus sponge. The zing you get alongside the sweetness. The versatility of its marrying with creamy, dreamy toppings and fillings. The slight bitterness from the use of zest…….
The name St Clement’s appears to have its history in the popular children’s nursery rhyme which we sang as kids : ‘oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements’ or so it goes….. The rhyme which follows through references to the bells of several churches in the vicinity of the City of London is alarmingly sinister, with reference to death and head-chopping………. Although it has been difficult to find any clarity about the origins or meaning of the lyrics.
Either way, the combination of oranges and lemons together is sublime. Sweet orange contrasting with zippy lemon. In a sponge? A heavenly partnership!
And even better……… This particular one is fatless. The sponge that is! The vanilla butter cream (frosting) certainly is not…… but it can be made dairy free if you need it that way and is totally delicious against the citrus tang.
Made with lots of ground almonds and sweetened with natural honey and a little brown sugar, this cake is moist with a nutty, slightly coarse bite.
I used Australian Macademia Blossom Honey……. A rich, glossy, clear honey with slightly floral notes which adds an extra something special against the orange and lemon flavours. The sponges are topped with a drizzle of orange glaze (made with blood orange juice) and a sprinkle of lightly toasted crunchy walnuts for extra texture and depth.
You could make it as a single large sandwich cake (8 inch), but I made cute individual ones using my Lakeland mini sandwich tin. It’s a perfect sponge for Mother’s Day, but with it’s light fruitiness, full of spring freshness, it would be ideal for Easter and fitting for any tea time table.
I am sharing my St Clement’s cakes with the following challenges this month :
The Biscuit Barrel challenge with The Lass in the Apron (for Laura at I’d Much Rather Bake Than…). March’s theme is ‘Herbs & Flowers’. The macademia blossom honey I used in this cake gives some wonderful floral undertones which sit well against the citrus.
Thanks to Emma from Adventures of a London Kiwi, who directed me to her blog after I posted this. For anyone who wants to know the history of the nursery rhyme ‘Oranges & Lemons’, Emma has a mountain of information having spent what looks like eons investigating it and visiting all the churches! I’m truly impressed with her diligence. Excitingly, I also learnt from her that there is something called ‘Oranges & Lemons Day’……. yes really! It takes place every year in London on the third Thursday in March…….. which means this year it is this week (19th March 2015)! A timely post indeed……
St Clement’s Cakes (makes 12 individual sandwich cakes)
95g ground almonds
zest ½ a lemon
½ teaspoon orange extract
Vanilla Butter Cream
80g butter (or dairy-free spread) softened
250g icing sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons almond milk (or alternative)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice half an orange
approx 5 tablespoons icing sugar
To decorate :
3 walnuts – chopped and lightly toasted
zest from 1 lemon and 1 orange
- Lightly grease or base line a mini sandwich cake tin.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- Mix together the almonds, flour, baking powder and salt making sure any lumps are broken down. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the honey, sugar and zest until pale and thick.
- Add the juices and orange extract and whisk again.
- In a separate very clean bowl with a clean whisk, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
- Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mix and beat together with a wooden/silicone spoon until well combined.
- Add and very gently fold in the egg whites trying to maintain as much air as possible.
- Gently spoon the mixture into the tin’s individual cake holes as evenly and smoothly as possible (but do not squash down the tops).
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top springs back to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Take out of the oven and remove to a wire rack to cool completely (right side up).
- Whilst the sponge is cooling, make the butter-icing : Beat the butter until soft and smooth and then gradually add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk to make a light, spreadable buttercream.
- Cut the sponges in half to make mini layers and spread a good spoonful of buttercream on each to make a sandwich.
- To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with the orange juice and heat gently either in the microwave or in a small saucepan, stirring frequently until the icing sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool (stirring occasionally) until thick enough to drizzle.
- Sprinkle and decorate with toasted walnuts and zest.