The appearance at the greengrocers of stacks of pale wooden boxes containing clementines is a sure sign that it’s winter and Christmas is coming (if the decorations around the market haven’t already given it away).
You can serve these little clementine puddings as an alternative to figgy pudding and brandy butter, though really they’re too good to confine to just one day; the citrus sponge and syrupy, tart, cranberry studded sauce (served loose, not stiff like the condiment that goes with turkey) fit the comforting pud category throughout the colder months. Both the sponges and sauce can be cooked in advance of eating.
For the sponges
60g light muscovado sugar
5 medium clementines
4 large eggs
About 220g salted butter at room temperature
About 220g golden caster sugar
About 220g self-raising flour
½tsp baking powder
For the sauce
80g fresh cranberries
Juice of 4 medium clementines
60g light muscovado sugar
Double cream, to serve
You will need 8 x 150ml dariole moulds or ramekins. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and grease the base and sides of your moulds with butter. Divide the light muscovado sugar between each greased mould, rolling the sugar around so that it covers and sticks to the base and sides, and leaves about 1tsp of the sugar in each base.
Finely grate the zest from the clementines and set aside. Peel the fruit and use a sharp knife to cut each into four 1cm-2cm thick rounds. Place the biggest eight slices in the base of the moulds on top of the sugar, and put the rest in a small saucepan (to be used in the sauce).
Weigh the eggs, then measure the same quantity of butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour (about 220g of each) into separate bowls. Combine the sugar and butter and cream together until light and fluffy (by hand with a wooden spoon and plenty of elbow grease, or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment). Crack in the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg fully before adding the next, then mix in the flour, baking powder and clementine zest.
Divide the batter among the moulds so they are three-quarters full. Place the moulds on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until risen and golden. A metal skewer inserted into the middle of one of the sponges should come out clean.
Add the sauce ingredients to the clementine segments in the saucepan. Heat gently for 5-10 minutes, until half of the cranberries have popped, a few have split and the rest remain intact. Avoid bursting too many as the sauce will become mushy and thick.
If you’ve made the sponges and sauce in advance, warm the sponges in a 120ºC oven for 10 minutes, and reheat the sauce gently for 3-5 minutes, again avoiding popping too many cranberries. Use a small palette knife to loosen the warm sponges from their moulds and invert them onto plates or bowls. Spoon the sauce over the top, and serve with double cream.