Valentine's Day is nearly upon us, although I can't say I really care about flowers and chocolates and romantic dinners - frankly, I don't need a nationally specified date for my loved ones to show me affection. But every holiday has a potential upside in my view, and that is themed cooking. (Had I not been so busy, I would surely have made groundhog-shaped cookies on 2 February...) So, when I had a Sunday afternoon, too many clementines, and an inclination to bake, it was clear that this would be the perfect pretext for heart-shaped goodies.
Clementine olive oil heart cakes
(adapted with little change from Smitten Kitchen)
3 clementines (or 1 to 2 oranges, depending on size)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp Amaretto
1/2 cup tart whole milk yoghurt (or buttermilk)
3 "large" eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
The zested clementines declare an impromptu war on the eggs; the knife moderates.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF; grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan or smaller pans amounting to an equivalent volume.
Combine grated zest of the clementines and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Peel the fruit, removing as much pith as possible from the segments, and chop into small pieces. Add to the zest and sugar, along with the Amaretto. Whisk in the olive oil, yoghurt and eggs.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, gently and without over-stirring.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (40 to 45 if using smaller moulds) - the top should be a golden brown and an inserted toothpick come out clean. Let the cake(s) sit for 5 to 10 minutes before unmoulding, then cool to room temperature.
Warm and cozy from the oven.
The resulting cakes are moist but very light. Halved, they would happily sandwich whipped cream or orange marmalade. Now that I've made you a bit of dessert, dear readers, will you be my Valentines?