Brimming with Christmassy clementines, this is a moist, dense cake, with a subtle hint of star anise. Once topped with the barely cooked clementines and syrup, it is best eaten within a day, or at most, over a couple of days.
- 140g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- plain flour, to dust
- 140g caster sugar
- 375g ricotta
- 3 medium eggs, separated, plus 2 extra egg yolks
- finely grated zest of 3 clementines, plus 3 tbsp juice
- 175g self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of fine sea salt
- Caramelised clementines
- 4–5 seedless clementines
- 100g caster sugar
- 4 star anise
- 75ml clementine juice or orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3. Lightly butter a 23–24cm springform cake tin and dust with flour.
Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the ricotta, egg yolks, and clementine zest and juice until evenly combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into another bowl.
In a clean bowl (with clean beaters), whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. In alternate batches, fold the egg whites and flour mix into the ricotta base until evenly incorporated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin and bake for 50–60 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Ten minutes before the cake will be cooked, make the topping. Peel the clementines, removing all pith, then slice crosswise into 1cm rounds and remove all pips.
Put the sugar and star anise into a dry heavy-based pan over a high heat. When the sugar begins to melt and caramelise, tilt the pan to swirl the syrup so that it colours evenly. As soon as it reaches a terracotta brown colour, add the clementine juice or liqueur, standing back as the hot caramel will splutter. Some of it will harden on contact with the juice, so stir over a medium heat until it melts and you have a thick, glossy caramel. Remove from the heat, add the clementines and toss to coat in the caramel.
Once the cake is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes (it will sink slightly on cooling. Carefully unmould and transfer it onto a cake stand. While it is still a warm, lightly prick all over with a skewer then drizzle over the caramel and arrange the clementine slices on top. Leave to cool completely. Slice and serve.
Gordon says: 'The cake itself freezes well in a sealed container.'