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My Nan's St. Clement's Cake

(recipe, Jamie Oliver)


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Introduction

This recipe reminds me of my nan, and also of some of the older customers who used to come into my parents' pub. The old dears would come up to the bar and ask for a half pint of Guinness for themselves and a St. Clement's for the wife, which is a simple orange juice and lemonade combo. It's named after a nursery rhyme we all grew up singing in England, which I've realized is actually quite a sinister song about owing people money and chopping off heads! But putting that aside, this cake is as sweet and lovely as you'd want it to be. The icing that seeps into the sponge adds flavor, and once the top layer firms up, it becomes a sherbety, citrusy delight. If you really want to smother the cake well, it will help to keep it nice and moist for quite some time. This recipe also makes the sweetest little cupcakes.

Ingredients

    For the almond cake
    1. 4½ oz. (1 stick plus 1 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
    2. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    3. 4 large free-range eggs
    4. 1 large orange
    5. 2 cups ground almonds (see Note)
    6. ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    7. 1 tsp. baking powder
    8. Pinch of salt
    For the lemon icing
    1. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
    2. 1 lemon

    Steps

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch loose-bottomed springform cake pan with a knob of butter, then line the base with parchment paper.
    2. Beat the softened butter with ½ cup and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until it's light and creamy, then crack in the eggs, one at a time, beating each one in well before adding the next. Finely grate in most of the orange zest, keeping back a few scrapings of the zest in a plastic-wrap-covered bowl. Fold in the ground almonds and sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
    3. Mix and gently combine everything, then spoon the cake batter into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until risen and slightly golden. To check that the cake is cooked through, poke a skewer or cocktail stick into the center of the sponge. If it comes out clean, it's done; if not, cook it for a few more minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the pan while you make the orange syrup.
    4. Put the remaining sugar into a pan and add the juice of the zested orange. Place the pan on a medium heat for a few minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. While the cake is still hot, poke lots of little holes in the top with a cocktail stick and pour the syrup all over it. Once all the syrup has been absorbed, move the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.
    5. To make the icing, sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl and grate in most of the lemon zest. Keep back a few gratings, add them to the bowl of reserved orange zest, and cover again with plastic wrap. Squeeze the lemon juice over the confectioners' sugar and mix, adding more juice if needed until you get a good drizzling consistency.
    6. Keep aside until the cake has completely cooled, then transfer it to a serving plate and pour that lemony icing all over the top, letting it drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle over the reserved orange and lemon zest, and serve.

    Note

    Culinate editor's notes: You can use almond meal instead of grinding your own almonds. The lemon icing is optional; the cake (especially with the syrup) is plenty sweet already. And if you go the cupcake route, you'll get about 12 cupcakes from the batter; bake them for about 14 to 16 minutes.