Recently I wrote about the generosity of a friend who gave me some mandarins from his orchard and that I decided to make mandarin muffins  to take to the office and share with others. On the day I chose to make them I needed a recipe that was quick and easy because I was extremely short on time. However, I had discovered a delicious recipe for a cake that also showcased this fabulous fruit and knew that I would have to make it one day.
This particular recipe meant boiling the fruit for two hours so I knew that the weekend would be the time to make it as I planned to have a substantial amount of time in my kitchen so I could keep an eye on them. After that task was done, I think this could possibly be the easiest cake I have ever made.
mandarin almond cake (recipe from “bills food” by Bill Granger)
makes one 24 cm cake, serves 10 – 12
250g (1 cup) caster sugar
230g (2 cups) ground almonds
60g (¼ cup) caster sugar
zest of 2 oranges
Put the mandarins in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding water when necessary to keep the mandarins covered at all times.
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F/Gas 3). Grease a 24 cm (9 inch) springform cake tin well.
Drain the mandarins and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, split them open with your hands and remove any seeds. Puree the mandarins, including the skins, in a food processor. Add the sugar and eggs and mix together until combined. Add the ground almonds to the mandarin purée and stir thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the cake looks set in the middle, springs back when touched and comes away from the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
While the cake is cooling, put the extra sugar in a saucepan with 60 ml (¼ cup) of water over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange zest and boil the mixture until it just starts to caramelise. Lift the zest out with a fork and cool it on a plate.
Serve the cake with caramelised citrus zest and a sprinkling of icing sugar.
My tips/alterations: *If you have a food processor or blender this is one of the simplest cake recipes that you can make. *The limited ingredients mean that this cake is gluten-free, wheat-free and diary-free so great for those with allergies to those ingredients. You can make this in a smaller or larger pan it will just affect the height of the cake and possibly the cooking time.  *I used a fan-forced oven and found that the cake browned a lot more than was shown in the picture in the cookbook. Use whatever temperature you think will suit your oven and cover the cake with foil in the latter stages of cooking to avoid over browning.
ease: 9.5/10. This is one of the simplest cake methods you will find.
prep time: 10mins.
cooking time: 120mins for fruit + 70mins for cake.
total: 3 hours 20mins, most of which is unattended.
taste: 9/10. This was definitely a hit. It was a very moist cake and the flavour of the almonds came through beautifully. The bitterness of the mandarins was balanced by the sweetness of the cake and the syrup from the oranges that I decided to pour over the cake when serving.
When I took this to work, my friend who was kind enough to provide me with the mandarins rated it 9.5/10 and told me that the only reason it didn’t get a 10 was because he didn’t have any double cream or orange zest to put on top.
would I make it again: I already have! I just substituted the mandarins with oranges.