Published with permissions from Don’t Buy Fruit and Vege Without Me by Thanh Truong, Macmillan Publishers, RRP $44.99
Everything Natalie Paull bakes is made with precision, care and thought. It’s no wonder her bakery, Beatrix Bakes, has a cult following. When I asked Nat if she would contribute a mandarin recipe to my book, she was even more generous than her cakes and agreed. I hope that if you’re reading this on a cold wintery day and there are mandarins on your kitchen bench that this delicious recipe inspires you to grease that loaf tin!
- 500 g whole mandarins (about 4; honey murcotts are best if you can get them), washed
- cooking oil spray
- 160 g almond meal
- 80 g fine polenta
- 3 g (3/4 teaspoon) baking powder
- 2 g (scant 1/2 teaspoon) fine sea salt
- 180 g unsalted butter, squidgy soft
- 160 g raw caster sugar, plus 60 g extra for the syrup
- 120 g egg (about 2 jumbo eggs)
- juice of 1 lemon
- vanilla-spiked whipped cream, to serve
Set up a steamer, add the whole mandarins and steam, covered, for 30–40 minutes, until soft. Remove the mandarins from the steamer and allow to cool to lukewarm.
Preheat the oven to 140°C fan-forced. Spray the base and sides of a 21 cm x 10.5 cm loaf tin with cooking oil spray and line with baking paper.
Place the almond meal, polenta, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attached or with electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar on low speed for 3–4 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, letting the mixture return to a fluffy, creamy paste after each addition.
When the fruit has cooled, remove the pedicel (a fruit nerd term for where the fruit is attached to a stem) and cut the mandarins in half. Pluck out as many seeds as you can, then weigh out 320 g of mandarin. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor and blitz to a pulpy, porridge consistency.
Scrape the mandarin pulp into the batter and stir well. Add the dry ingredients and fold through thoroughly, then scrape the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 60–70 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (or the cake has reached an internal temperature of 95°C).
Meanwhile, to make the syrup, finely dice the remaining mandarins and place in a small saucepan with the extra sugar, lemon juice and 200 ml of water. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid is a thin, syrupy consistency. Set aside to cool, then spoon most of the syrup over the top of the hot cake. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes.
Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate. Spoon the remaining syrup over the cake and enjoy warm or at room temperature, with vanilla-spiked whipped cream.