Friday, March 2, 2012

Clementine cake

Having a chatty seven-year-old around the house means (at least around my house) a steady stream of challenging questions, random opinions, and non sequiturs. It’s fascinating to me to watch the ongoing development of someone else’s brain, even if my own is hard pressed to keep up at times.

Here is a random selection of recent exchanges:

While driving in the car, in silence, listening to music (The Doors, Miss B’s current favorite, though not germane to this story)
Miss B: Mum, you know that old lady in the movie (Madagascar 2, which we had watched a day or two earlier)? All those people she was with were grown-ups. Why was she treating them like kids?
Me: Uh … (lengthy pause, followed by an attempt to explain relative age difference, using both a 2-year-old friend and her 100-year-old great-aunt as illustrative examples)

While watching some other children’s movie on television that I already forget
Miss B: Mum, what’s a bargain?
Me: If I said to you, ‘I’ll give you something, and you give me something else.’
Miss B: Yeah…like four potatoes for a horse!

And the following, all raised during breakfast in the last week—clearly Miss B’s brain wakes up earlier than mine does

Miss B: (studying the Rice Krispies box while eating cereal) Mum, what is snow for Rice Krispies if they are so tiny?
Me: Zuh?

Miss B: Mum, what if I was a frog?
Me: Um…you would live in a pond and eat a lot of flies?
Miss B: Yes! And I would eat fly cereal and fly cupcakes!

Miss B: Mum, we have to make a robot for school! Out of cans and other things that go in recycling.
Mum: Okay, I’ll save some stuff and we’ll do that later in the week.
Miss B: Okay….What about the toes?

Ooookay. And just what, you may be asking, does any of this have to do with clementine cake? Well, after spending most of the last three months eating clementines as if she was getting paid for it (while thinking up more questions, no doubt), Miss B has abruptly decided she’s all done with winter citrus and no amount of cajoling will budge her. Unfortunately this decision came almost immediately after I had purchased a 5-lb. crate on sale. Not being one to waste food, I thought this would be a good opportunity to try out the clementine cake from Nigella Lawson’s first cookbook, which I’ve been mulling over for something like 12 years but never yet made. The recipe is available online, so I won’t rehash it. A few notes on my own experience, though:

1. I boiled the clementines in a mixture of fruit juice and water, and added a healthy splash of lime juice to the clementine puree before mixing it into the cake batter.
2. I also added a generous pinch of rosemary salt to the batter.
3. I used a slightly bigger pan than the recipe specifies, so my cake is a bit shorter than the one pictured on Nigella’s website.
4. I’m not sure if the larger pan was also the reason my cake baked in about half the time the recipe specifies. I tested it after 30 minutes: the cake tester was clean, and the cake looked done, so I pulled it out. It was very moist but definitely cooked. (At least one friend had previously complained of it being dry when she made it, so this may be the culprit.)
5. I felt like it needed a little something, so I decided to slather a layer of chocolate ganache on top. Because, really, isn’t just about anything better with chocolate ganache on top?
6. I had considered mixing something (dried fruit, or chocolate chips, or similar) into the batter before baking, because even before I made it I felt that it was going to need a little something, but I thought I was already messing with the recipe enough. If I made it again, I think I would add something, either instead of or along with the ganache.
7. This recipe is gluten-free! (Chock full of eggs though.)


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