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Light and Luscious Mandarin cake

June 7, 2015

Perfect for afternoon tea!

Dairy free & grain-free, this cake is perfect for afternoon tea!

A little while ago I had lunch at a favourite local cafe, Plenty in West End, where I had the most wonderful Mandarin Cake. It was fragrant in the way that oranges are not, it was light but still sustaining as it was based on almonds; being totally gluten-free.

I did ruminate on this cake for at least a week before I started experimenting on my own! Many whole citrus cakes that are nut based can be heavy and cloying. A traditional flourless orange cake often relies on a syrup to make it moist or tender – and I didn’t want to add any more sugar use a syrup.

So I decided to lighten the texture with a little tapioca flour which worked a treat.

Mandarins originated from southern China and were named after the Chinese officials of the Imperial court who used the fruit for various medicinal purposes. They used dried mandarin peel to improve digestion, relieve intestinal gas and bloating, and resolve phlegm. It is still used in this way in modern TCM and you will often find it in Chinese cooking.

It is mandarin season here in Australia and they are plentiful. Last year Australians consumed more than 70,000 tonnes of Australian mandarins throughout the season, which was grown on over 2.3 million Australian citrus trees. A single mandarin provides adults with 190% of their daily intake of Vitamin C, whereas apples provide 40% and bananas 33%.

Mandarins are easily hybridised and there are many many different varieties.

Imperials are the most popular mandarin variety (here in Australia) and are the first to be harvested each season. They are easy to peel, have very few seeds, and are one of a handful of popular citrus varieties that originated in Australia.

Murcotts (or Honey Murcotts) are popular in supermarkets as they have an attractive appearance and excellent flavour. I find they often have too many seeds for my liking and are harder to peel.

Other varieties that are grown here are Fremonts; slightly smaller than most mandarins, with a deep flesh colour. This Californian variety is great to cook with as they have a strong rich flavour.

The Sunburst mandarin variety are a deep red-orange colour and have a high juice content, which means they are perfect for juicing as are the Taylor-Lee, which is another Australian bred variety.

Hicksons arrive later in the season and originated in Queensland in 1941.

When developing this recipe I found a new variety that I hadn’t seen before: Afourer from Morocco. It was marketed as being seedless, but the ones I bought were full of seeds! I have read that this can be affected by growing conditions.

When cooking with the whole fruit, choose fruit that have a thinner skin and fewer seeds. The pith and seeds can make the cake bitter so I used Imperials. You will need 2 – 3 mandarins for this recipe.

You may want to increase the sugar by another 30g – I have made this recipe not too sweet on purpose – but if your palate is like mine, it will be sweet enough. This cake keeps really well and freezes well also.

300g mandarins, preferably ‘Imperial’
100g rapadura sugar
4 eggs
230g almond meal
50g tapioca flour
1.5 teas baking powder
vanilla to taste
20g macadamia oil (or preferred oil)
1 tab lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Choose mandarins that are unblemished and have a thinner skin.
Slice in half, widthways and remove any seeds. Add to the TM (with the peel) with the sugar and blend on SP 8 for 10 seconds.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix on SP 5 for 10 seconds.
Pour into a 22cm lined tin and bake at 160°C for 1 hour.
11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2016 6:30 pm

    Do you use peel ?

    • June 17, 2016 5:02 pm

      Yes, I have amended the recipe to say that! Thankyou!

  2. Kasia permalink
    June 7, 2016 4:09 pm

    Just wondering if you could replace the almond meal with something else? I would love to make this for my son to take to daycare which is nut free

    • June 17, 2016 5:03 pm

      Yes you could use sunflower seed flour instead but it might go a little green in colour which doesn’t affect the taste.

  3. Helen permalink
    June 27, 2015 1:20 pm

    Is your 160 degrees fan-forced or normal oven?

    • June 29, 2015 6:32 pm

      Fan forced!

      • Helen permalink
        June 29, 2015 6:41 pm

        Thanks. I made it on the weekend but dropped the temperature to 140 degrees fan-forced but I felt it wasn’t quite right. But the taste was amazing so will try again with correct temperature.

  4. Tracy permalink
    June 9, 2015 3:46 pm

    Lovely cake. So quick and easy to make. Thank you!

  5. Allison permalink
    June 7, 2015 8:17 pm

    Ha! Mandarin farm! Not mandating…

  6. Allison permalink
    June 7, 2015 8:16 pm

    There’s another seedless (mostly) variety you missed called Satsuma- thin skinned with very little pith, these ripen earlier in the season than Imperials. Satsumas also have an amazing flavour but are fairly hard to find in the shops. I’m lucky enough to live near a mandating farm which is open to the public to “Pick Your Own”.

    • June 8, 2015 7:36 am

      Hi Allison,
      Yes, I forgot the Japanese satsuma variety; they grow in the colder areas and we don’t see them so often here in Queensland. These would be good for this recipe.

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