One of the blogs I follow that I really enjoy–both her delightful style of writing and story-telling about the foods she cooks, as well as the recipes and instructions, is Dorothy’s ‘The New Vintage Kitchen.‘ Earlier in the month of December she posted a section on Treats from a Busy Holiday Kitchen and I fell in love with the Christmas Clementine Cake. While picking up groceries just before Christmas, I decided after quite the long hiatus from cooking that I would make Lana’s Apple Skillet Cake and Dorothy’s Christmas Clementine Cake. I found Clementine oranges, but only in a box of 24, and I knew we would never eat nor use that many oranges. Dorothy had mentioned (as she often gives flexible options and substitutes) the little Mandarins that are available this time of year also. I could get a bag of 12 Mandarins and they were about half the cost of the 24 Clementines, so I chose that option. I have no idea where the juicer is right now, along with any number of other kitchen tools or appliances, so I did not want to waste any more than necessary. I bought extra butter, and sugar and eggs, along with the apples for the apple skillet cake.
Let’s cut to the chase here…I forgot to check for any number of items…like what the recipe called for. I went back to the store after Christmas and checking the recipe. Larson’s had ginger, but no cardamom. I stopped at Kroger on the way home and picked up the cardamom. Oops, checked the pantry and even though I only needed 1/4 cup of Grand Mariner for the soaking part of the cake, the bottle was gone. Back to town again to pick up Grand Mariner. It was pouring rain as a thunder storm had begun, and the sky was dark. Started the process of putting the ingredients together and oops, no baking powder. In the cabinet purge prior to the renovation, I had tossed the baking powder as it was out of date, and not having baked yet, did not remember I did not have any. Randy to the rescue and he went up the road to Dollar General in the rain to get some. At least that was the last mishap.
The mandarins cook on low simmer (see the link to Dorothy’s Christmas Clementine Cake above for the recipe and instructions) in their skins in a covered pot for 2 hours. Fortunately, that is what gave me time to get everything else done for prep so there was no actual delay in the process. It smelled so fragrant and the taste of the batter was scrumptious, with those little bits of orange mingled with the other flavors. Instructions for cooking in a bundt pan included setting the timer for 30 minutes, and then checking, but instructions indicated it would probably need about 10 additional minutes after that. The cake was to cool for about 10 minutes afterward, and then place a rack over the pan and flip it. It flipped out beautifully perfect with nary a crumb crumble. The orange juice simple syrup mixed with the Grand Mariner is next, soaking into the cake which has been pricked with a fork. Finally, the ganache was drizzled over the cake…mine was more of a pour and cover the cake rather than the elegant thin drizzle of Dorothy’s cake…but, voila!
The result was a moist, densely textured cake with orange bits, subtle spice, not too sweet, but with the smooth ganache bringing a perfect finish. Frankly, it is even better today, more moist and flavorful. It required more effort than I have done in a long time with food preparation, but it was worth it. It was actually not that difficult to make the cake–the effort was all the things I forgot to do for preparation to make the cake! Thank you, Dorothy, for your wonderful recipes and your generosity in sharing them with us. In keeping with the spirit of Dorothy’s flexible options, for those who prefer not to use alcohol or spirits, just use the orange juice syrup for soaking the cake prior to glazing. Dorothy’s recipe also offers other options for vegan, gluten free, dairy free options, and a confectioner’s sugar glaze as well as garnish options. Try it!