It’s been bitterly cold here the past week or so (I know, when it’s below zero in the double digits up north, it seems petty to complain about simply being below freezing, but this is North Carolina, and I didn’t expect it).

Life’s been interesting around here for the past week – I came away from a doctor’s appointment last Wednesday with several food restrictions that are indefinite in nature (the problem: my estrogen levels are through the roof.  As in, more than twice the upper end of the normal range.  This is, apparently, bad, although now I can blame my curvy figure and non-traditional lifestyle on the ‘Marilyn Monroe hormone’. Go science!)

So, in addition to being a strict vegetarian (20 years and counting), I am now supposed to avoid all dairy and unfermented soy, avoid simple sugars, and eat more cruciferous vegetables – and exercise every single day!  Needless to say, this has put something of a monkey-wrench into my daily routine, and I’ve needed some down time to sort it out. In particular, I just haven’t had the mood to bake, as I can only taste small parts of it.

Humans are resilient creatures, however, and the urge started to bite again last night, with the following result:

Torte Clementine in the winter sun

Torte Clementine in the winter sun

I saw this recipe the other day at Smitten Kitchen (she adapted it from the Clementine Cake recipe by Nigella Lawson), and as I had half a box of clementines needing to be used up, I couldn’t resist!  I am renaming it as a torte, though, because as it is based on nut flours instead of wheat flours, it is more properly a Torte.

Torte Clementine

4 to 5 clementines (about 375grams/slightly less than 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) sugar
2 1/3 cups (250 grams) ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder

Optional: Powdered sugar for dusting.

Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours [ note: you will likely have to replace water a few times, even with a lid]. Drain and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds. Then finely chop the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor (or by hand, of course).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Butter and line an 8-inch (21 centimeter) springform pan with parchment paper. (I used an 8.5-inch, and noticed no difference in cooking time.)

By hand, or using a mixer:

Beat the eggs. Add the sugar, almonds, and baking powder. Mix well, adding the chopped clementines.

Food processor instructions (I did everything in the processor, as I had to use it to grind the almonds and clementines anyways, and who wants to get more dishes dirty?)

First step: Puree clementines.  Set aside.
Second step (I didn’t bother cleaning the bowl): Grind almonds with sugar (so they don’t turn into nut paste).
Third: Stir in baking powder.
Fourth: Drop eggs into bowl and pulse until mixed in.
Fifth: Add puree, and pulse to mix.

Pour the torte mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 60 minutes*, when a skewer will come out clean; you might have to [note: will have to] cover the torte with foil after about 20 to 30 minutes to stop the top from over-browning.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, in the pan on a rack. When the torte is cold, you can take it out of the pan and dust it with powdered sugar.

My notes about the cooking time: Smitten Kitchen took hers out after 30 minutes, using a 9-inch pan.  I checked mine at 30 – still goopy, but definitely brown on the edges.  Covered with foil.  Checked every 10-15 for another half an hour, at which point it looked set (and skewered clean), so I took it out.  However, after it had cooled and I’d cut a piece (above), the middle was still on the ‘extremely moist’ side – almost gooey.  Given how quickly this browns, next time I make it I will use cake strips on the side and cover it with foil throughout, to prevent overbrowning.

Check out the highly browned edges - yet this wasn't quite cooked through yet!

Check out the highly browned edges - yet this wasn't quite cooked through yet!

I had a bite of the torte the same day it was made, and it had a nice citrus flavor to it, and nice graininess from the almond flour.  Jeff took it to work the next day, and reports that after sitting overnight, the almond flavor really has a chance to show up, making this a super-wonderful torte.  I’ll definitely make it again!

Torte in its entirety!

Torte in its entirety!

Topside of the Dobos Torte

Topside of the Dobos Torte

I have a fondness for European-style desserts that require some fussing. They’ll probably never be cost-effective enough for me to sell them wholesale (although I’m happy to make them for special occasions), but there’s just something wonderful about the final product of a million fussy little steps.

The Dobos Torte is one such, and I made one a few weeks ago. The recipe came from an absolutely lovely cookbook called Kaffeehaus by Rick Rodgers, that is a compendium of all things Austrian and pastry. I love this book.

The Dobos Torte is described as follows:

“Five thin layers (no more, no less) of vanilla sponge cake, each slathered with chocolate buttercream icing, and topped with wedges of caramel-glazed cake.”

Side shot of the Dobos

Side shot of the Dobos

Here you can see the prescribed five layers – and that they’re not exactly what you’d call even… I started out afraid of using up all of my sponge batter and so made a couple of very thin layers, and then ended up making one big one at the end. Oops. Well, when you slather it all in fabulous chocolate buttercream and sugar, nobody notices. I sure didn’t.

The caramel wedges are being propped up by hazelnuts.

I’m not typing the recipe in, because it’s three frickin’ pages long. There’s one that makes a square torte, one that looks vaguely similar to this one, one from Gale Gand with the ugliest looking picture (I’m so not kidding; I wouldn’t even eat that cake), one that is seriously, seriously wrong (I mean, frozen poundcake, chocolate chips, and sweetened condensed milk? OW MY BRAIN), and an eGullet recipe that is totally different from the others, yet looks darned tasty. So, let inspiration take you!