Citrus Almond Cake

I am the first to admit that while I claim my Chinese ethnicity, I am far removed from the language and culture of my ancestors. My main connection to cultural celebrations is food. As we approach Chinese New Year (February 1st this year), I started thinking about the foods I associate with this celebration.

Citrus Almond Cake

Oranges for Chinese New Year

Growing up, as Chinese New Year approached, I remember plates stacked with orange citrus fruit - usually tangerines or navel oranges - at my popo's (grandmother's) house. Nowadays, the more traditional mandarin orange is readily available. In addition to displaying them in the house, we also gift them to friends and family.

With its glossy orange skin, the mandarin orange is thought to resemble the sun or gold. It is considered auspicious for the new year and thought to bring good luck.

Citrus Almond Cake - multiple servings

Something new for our celebration

As I saw the beautiful piles of mandarin oranges, I was reminded of an episode of Nigella Bites from many, many years ago. On this particular episode she made a Clementine Cake and what caught my attention was the fact that she boiled the fruit whole - peel, pith, flesh, everything - before turning it into a slushy, citrus puree and incorporating it into a cake batter. It seemed an easy substitute - mandarin oranges for clementines.

The other primary ingredient of the cake is ground almonds or almond flour. As with many foods associated with the Chinese New Year celebration, nuts represent longevity, happiness, and health. Almonds in particular symbolize a bright future.

So, although this recipe is not Chinese, it seemed appropriate to incorporate as a new tradition. It doesn't mean that we will forgo our other foods like gao, we are simply adding another.

Citrus Almond Cake

Great for everyday

While I am making this Citrus Almond Cake for our New Year's celebration, it is also great to eat year-round, as long as you have fresh citrus available to you. Nigella points out that it travels well and is great for a picnic. It is also naturally gluten-free as it doesn't contain any flour and as long as you use a gluten-free baking powder.

She also has suggestions on her website should you wish to use other citrus like lemons.