FORGET cabbage soup.

Why not inject some colour into the grey months of winter? And I’m not talking about your hair.

It’s always a cheerful sight on any dreary day to see a heap of clementines in the fruit bowl.

I was munching my way through my fourth clementine the other day, pondering about a bag of ground almonds that was left over from the Christmas cake and nearing its sell-by date.

Then I peeled my fifth clementine, mindlessly appreciating the startling Mediterranean orange happiness the bowlful was offering me, with a sniff of Christmas long past.

This orange with its high-powered vitamin C fibre punch has more than health benefits - but first we have to understand this very strange citrus family’s history.

Clementines are often called the Christmas orange because of the growing season being from the middle of November through to the end of the darkest, coldest month of January.

Clementines are closely related to the mandarin family.

Legend says they were developed by a monk in Algeria when two species of citrus fruits created a hybrid from the Algerian garden of Marie-Clement, having a feminine name of ‘Clement’, an anglicised form of Latin ‘Clemens’.

Clement, Clementine, it’s all very confusing, but you can see where I’m coming from.

And the connection here?

Clementines are exceptionally sweet.

Kids love them being small, seedless and easy to peel with baggy skins.

You can also make marmalade from them and jazz up your gin and tonic.

There are four citrus fruits seen as ancestors to the clementine: orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit, with the clementine being the grandchild of the mandarin.

The first lady Clementine Churchill also comes to mind, with a good sing-song from my Scout years: oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Clementine....

These oranges are a bright spot for most of us this time of year.

What I’m trying to say is, clementines are great for baking with, and are also scrumptious when made into a cake packed full of almonds.

The citrusy zest and juices with a delicious caramelised orangy flavour are moist and nutty, but not too sweet – it’s rather healthy in fact.

Have you been Tangoed? 

Clementine and almond cake


3 whole clementine’s, cleaned 

4 eggs

1 large lemon, zest only

160g caster sugar 

100ml olive oil 

175g ground almonds 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

For the syrup   

15g  caster sugar 

Juice from the leftover lemon

To serve  

Icing sugar or caste, for dusting 

250ml  whipped cream, optional 

3-4 oranges, segments 


1. Place the clementines into a saucepan and cover with water. 

2. Bring the water to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until tender. Remove and set aside until cool.  

3. Cut the clementines in half and discard any pips.

4. Put the clementines, including the skins, into a food processor and blend to a paste. 

5. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 5, and grease and line a 8-inch round cake tin with parchment paper.  

6. Whisk the eggs, lemon zest and Castor sugar in a bowl till light textured.

7. Add the olive oil and beat until well combined.

8. Stir in the clementine paste and fold in the ground almonds and baking powder. 

9. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes or until well risen and golden brown; the cake will sink slightly in the middle, this is normal.

10. Allow the cake to cool in the tin on a cooling rack.

11. Meanwhile, to make the syrup, warm the sugar and lemon juice in a small pan over a low heat until the sugar as dissolved.

12. Poke lots of holes over the cake with a cocktail stick, and drizzle over the lemon syrup.

13. Let the cake cool completely in the tin, turn it out upside down onto a serving plate, scatter over a few toasted flaked almonds with a dusting of icing sugar, then serve with whipped cream and a few orange segments.