By popular demand I am bringing you English version of recipe invented by my dearest Jeanne, wife of Čedo who I often call the guru of new Dalmatian cuisine. Jeanne and Čedo are a couple who graciously enjoy Dalmatian way of life in Trogir hinterland. This simple and elegant cake combines ingredients that can be found in many gardens in Dalmatia – mandarines and almonds.
As in Istria the climate is colder and winter brings cold wind bura, these two fruits can thrive only in sea-tempered and sun bathed South Istria whose climate is similar to the one of Northern Dalmatia (Zadar and surroundings).
We are very lucky to have two almond trees and two mandarine trees in garden of our family house in Ližnjan so this delicious cake served me as a perfect illustration of the principles I try to follow in my cooking classes: to use local ingredients that are in their peak season as much as possible (although as you will read in the reacipe freezing can extend this season a bit). What can be more local than to use fruits from your garden?
3-5 organic tangerines, medium size
185 g sugar
200 g almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
Put tangerines in a casserole and add just enough water to cover the fruits. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Leave them to cool down.
Heat up oven to 180°C. To save the juice cut the tangerines above a tray and remove stems and seeds if there are any. Cut in even smaller pieces and use immersion blender to turn pulp and the skins into homogeneous mixture. For the cake you need 250 ml of the mixture. The rest can be frozen and used for the same cake when tangerines are out of season.
If you have almond trees in your garden, like we do in Ližnjan, here is the quickest and cheapest way to de-shell the almonds. Forget about tools Made in China that break quickly. All you need is a brick!
Blanch the almonds for few minutes and remove the skins. If you are lazy you can buy blanched almonds or you can leave the skins. The cake will be equally tasty but the cake interior won’t have a bright, homogenous color. Then, the best is to grind them coarsely in manual nuts grinder to get almond meal, not flour. If you use electric grinder, for example some old coffee grinder like I do, add a spoon of sugar on every three spoons of almonds. The sugar will soak up the released fat and the mixture won’t turn into thick gluey mess.
Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer until you get creamy texture. Add baking powder, the almond meal and the tangerine mixture. Mix gently until you get a homogenous dough.
Rub a 21 cm diameter baking mould with cold butter then coat it with parchement paper. The paper should overpass the mould edge by 2 cm. Finally, rub the paper with cold butter. Pour the dough into the mould and shake it few times to spread horizontally.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes. After 30 minutes cover it with aluminium foil to prevent excess caramelization of the cake surface. Cool down the cake in the mould. As it is often the case with cakes, it tastes best the next day when all flavors and aromas get fused. Just before serving powder it with icing sugar. Wonderful with homemade pomegranate syrup if you would like to add a tangy bite or with varenik of Istrian Malvazija (grape juice slowly reduced into thick syrup) if caramel is your sweet spot.