The warnings started early last weekend and escalated in severity with every few hours. “Snowstorm predicted for next week.” “Snow blizzard expected.” “Brace for three feet of snow!” “Snowmaggedon!” “Snowpocalypse!!” “It’s the end of the world!!!” Ok, I made that last one up. In all seriousness, it sounded like we were due for a whopper of a snowstorm, so on Sunday morning, I decided to go to the grocery store in our neighborhood and get some basics, like milk and fruit. I walked through the sliding doors of the store and I started laughing. You’d think that the world really was ending. People were piling up enough food in their carts to feed their family for a couple of weeks. I guess it’s better to be prepared than sorry.
I bought just a few things for us (I have enough food in the house, at all times, to feed a small army), including some beautiful tangerines. They (and all their cousins, like mandarines, clementines, and tangelos) are probably my favorite citrus fruit. There is something beguiling about them, a seductive streak to their sweet tartness with that tinge of bitterness. And they are so easy to carry and peel, giving bananas a real run for the most convenient fruit snack.
This recipe comes from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, which remains one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. It’s a cake soaked in clementine syrup. I love syrup cakes. They are really common in Middle Eastern cuisines, so they are familiar to me from my childhood.
Oh, and that historic blizzard that would bury us in snow? As you probably already know, it never materialized here in New York city. We barely got eight inches of snow. There’s still time this winter, though, for the world to end in a blizzard of snow.Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake – Slightly adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook
14 tablespoons (200 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
scant 2 cups (380 g) sugar, separated
grated zest and juice of 4 clementines
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2½ cups (280 g) ground almonds
5 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon (100 g) all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9½-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper (if you can, line the sides as well).
In a mixer, beat the butter, 1½ cups (300 g) of the sugar, and both zests on low speed just until everything is well combined. Don’t beat it too much or incorporate a lot of air in it. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing until combined.
With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time, stopping the scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the remaining ground almonds, the flour, and the salt and but until completely smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and level it with an offset spatula. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out just a little bit moist.
When the cake is still in the oven and almost done, place the remaining sugar and the citrus juices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as the syrup boils, remove it from the heat.
As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, brush it with the boiling syrup (use all the syrup), making sure that all the syrup is soaked in. L