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If you love oranges you'll love this Clementine Cake recipe. Whole clementines are pureed and added to the cake batter. The final cake is moist, tender, and absolutely bursting with a delicious citrusy flavor.
I love citrus season and the variety of oranges is incredible. Everything from mandarin oranges (which come in multiple varieties) to beautiful blood orange and delicious Cara Cara oranges. This cake is inspired by my love for oranges.
I've been wanting to make an orange cake like this for a long time, but couldn't figure out how to maximize the orange flavor without adding a lot of liquid. Then I saw an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they used clementine mandarins and pureed the entire fruit before adding it to the cake batter. The idea for this cake was born.
If you're looking for an intensely flavored orange cake then this is the recipe for you. You'll love this cake.
Why This Recipe Works
To maximize the amount of clementine flavor in the cake whole clementine oranges (fruit and peel) are pureed and added to the cake batter. Including the peel increases the intensity of the flavor and bright color of the cake. Sour cream creates a tender cake and creaming the butter and sugar contributes an open crumb.
Ingredients for This Clementine Cake
This recipe for clementine cake has just a few ingredients. Here is what you'll need:
- Clementine Oranges. These oranges are a type of mandarin orange and are the major flavor component of this cake. Look for small mandarins that are still somewhat firm.
- Bob's Red Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Flour provides the structure of the cake. I love using Bob's Red Mill because it's finely milled and helps produce a wonderful cake texture.
- Granulated Sugar. Sugar adds moisture and sweetness.
- Whole Eggs. The eggs should be at room temperature for this cake. Take the eggs out the night before if making this cake in the morning; or in the morning if making the cake later in the day.
- Unsalted Butter. Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt in the recipe. The buttter should be at room temperature, which means 65-68F.
- Sour Cream. Sour cream helps create a tender crumb and adds fat tothe cake.
- Baking Powder. The baking powder helps the cake rise to develop a light crumb.
- Kosher Salt
What are Clementines
Clementines are a type of mandarin and mandarins are a type of orange. Mandarins are generally smaller and sweeter than oranges, a little flatter in shape, and they have thinner, looser skin that makes them easier to peel.
Clementines are the smallest type of mandarin orange. They are super sweet, seedless, and have red-orange skins that are smooth and shiny, which makes them perfect for using the whole fruit in this cake. The mandarins you see in grocery stores called Cuties and Sweeties are Clementines.
How to Make This Cake
Measure the flour, salt, and baking powder. Place them in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Weigh out 320 grams of whole clementines. Cut off the stem end, just enough to remove the stem, and then cut them in half. Place the clementines in the food processor and process until the peel is completely broken down into very small pieces. You made need to stop the food processor, scrape down the sides and then continue processing the clementines.
Pour the clementine puree into a 2-cup measuring cup. You should have about 1-1/2 cups of puree. If you have more remove the excess. If you have less return the pulp to the food processor and add another mandarin. Process until everything is broken down.
Add the sour cream to the clementine puree and whisk to combine. You should have a total of 2 cups of the clementine-sour cream mixture.
Cream the butter and sugar together until it's lighter in color and looks creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Until all the eggs are incorporated.
Alternate the addition of the flour mixture and the clementine-sour cream mixture mixing on low after each addition.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix the batter on low for about 20 seconds to ensure everything is combined.
How to Bake the Cake
I used the Brilliance Bundt Pan for this recipe, but you can use any bundt pan that has at least a 10 cup capacity. Spray the pan with Baker's Joy or equivalent baking spray (do not use regular cooking spray).
Pour the batter into the pan and tap the pan on the counter lined with a dish towel to settle the cake into the groves. This step is really important if you're using a bundt pan with an intricate design and lots of crevices.
Bake the cake until it the center temperature is 202F degrees and the cake has risen, set and firm to the touch. While the cake is baking it may rise a little over the edges of the bundt pan, but don't worry, it won't overflow and will settle back down.
When the cake is removed from the pan, the color can range from a golden brown to a dark brown. The cake may be darker than what's pictured here because the amount of sugar in the mandarins will vary and your pan may conduct heat differently.
If the cake is darker in color that's okay as long as it's not overbaked.
Pro Tips for Making This Recipe
- Measure your flour by weighing it. Weighing the flour is the best way to ensure you don't have too much flour which will result in a dry cake or too little, which might cause the ake to collapse
- Don't overmix the cake batter. Overmixing could result in large holes or the development of a tunnel in the center of the cake.
- Spray your bundt pan right before you add the batter so the spray doesn't settle at the bottom of the pan. If using a combination of butter and flour to prep your pan instead of the baking spray do that step before you start mixing ingredients.
- Let the cake cool in the pan about 15 minutes. If you remove the cake too soon it might stick to the pan and break as you invert it. If you let the cake sit too long it will stick to the pan and be hard to get out of the pan.
Clementine Cake - Frequently Asked Questions
If the cake sunk it could be because not enough flour was added or because the cake was overmixed.
If there are large holes in the cake it is most likely because the batter was overmixed. Overmixing can occur when you cream the butter and sugar too long, introducing more air into the cake.
Your cake stuck to the pan either because you did not use enough baking spray on the pan or you let it sit too long in the pan after it was removed from the oven.
If your cake is tough and dense that may be caused by using cold eggs.
I hope you'll try this recipe while these lovely mandarins are available. It's easy to make and you'll love the orange flavor of this cake. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you want to keep up to date on new recipes, please sign up for my Baking Newsletter.
If You Love Citrus Desserts Check Out These Recipes
- 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) Bob’s Red Mill Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 320 grams whole Clementine mandarin oranges 5-6 Clementines
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) full-fat sour cream room temperature
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
- 16 tablespoons (228 grams) unsalted butter room temperature
- 4 (200 grams) large eggs room temperature
- 2 cups (230 grams) powdered sugar sifted
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the flour, baking powder and kosher salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Crack the eggs into a small bowl.
- Place the Clementine mandarins in the food processor and with the metal blade, process the oranges until they are broken down in a pulp and the peel is in small pieces. If there are any large pieces of peel, scrape down the sides of the food process and continue to process the oranges until they are completely broken down.
- Scrape the clementine puree into a 2-cup measuring. You should have 1-1/2 cups of puree. If you have less you may need to process another clementine. If you have more than 1-1/2 cups remove some of the puree. Add the sour cream to the puree and whisk together. You should have a total of 2 cups.
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together for 4 minutes. The mixture should be lighter in color and look creamy. Add the eggs one at a time beating on medium speed after each addition until the egg is fully incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl after adding and beating in the second bowl. After all the eggs are added scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl once again.
- Add 1/3 of the flour and mix on low-speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid 7-QT Mixer) until incorporated. There may be some flour on the sides of the bowl - that’s okay. Add half of the clementine-sour cream mixer and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the remaining flour, mix on low-speed, add the remaining clementine-sour cream mixture, and end with the addition of the remaining flour. After mixing in the remaining flour, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for 20 seconds to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
- Spray the bundt pan with Baker’s Joy baking spray making sure to cover the entire surface. Add the batter to the pan in large spoonfuls. When about half the batter is added tap the pan against a cloth covered counter. Add the remaining batter tap the pan again to settle the batter into the crevices, especially if you’re using a bundt pan with an intricate pattern. If using the Nordic Ware Anniversary Bundt Pan there is no need to tap the pan.
- Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes until the cake temperature is 202°F in the center and the top of the cake is slightly firm and bounces back when you press it with a finger tip.
- Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let it cool for 15 minutes. Cover the cooling rack with a piece of parchment paper and then invert the cake onto the parchment covered cooling rack.
- Let the cake cool completely, 1-1/2 to 2 hours, before adding the glaze.
- Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar. Add two tablespoons of orange juice and stir into the powdered sugar, then add the sour cream stirring after the addition of each tablespoon. This glaze is thick, so if you want a thinner glaze, add orange juice 1 teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is achieved.
Finishing the Cake
- Spoon the glaze over cake once it has completely cooled.
Storing the Cake
- Before adding the glaze, the cake can sit at room temperature for two days in a covered container. Once the glaze has been added, refrigerate the cake the same day since the glaze has sour cream in it.Store the cake in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 7 days.