Clementine Cake from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based on James Thurber’s short story in the 1939 The New Yorker. Ben Stiller plays the main character, Walter, a photo editor at Life magazine responsible for historic photos, who loses a very important and the crucial shot and has to treck, fly, jump and swim around the world chasing its photographer. Great movie to watch.


In the film, clementine cake has a small but funny subplot: baked by Walter’s mother for his birthday, it keeps popping out throughout the movie in places all around the world, and eventually used to bribe Afghani warlords in exchange for safe passage through their territory.
mittyFor the cake:

  • 4 to 5 unpeeled clementines (about 1 pound total weight)
  • Spray oil
  • 6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 250 grams (2 and 1/3 cups) of ground almonds
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
  1. Poke each clementine with a knife 3-4 times. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, covered with a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high about 4 minute or until soft. Alternatively, you can soften the clementines by placing in a small pot (peels and all) and add enough room temperature water to cover them. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours or until soft.
  2. Let cooked clementines cool. While cooling, heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8 or 9-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper and grease with spray oil, butter, or coconut oil.
  3. Cut each clementine in half and remove the pips. Roughly chop the de-pitted clementines and puree in a blender or food processor.
  4. Add the egg yolks to the blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Dump in the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla. Blend/process until thoroughly combined.
  5. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy. While whipping, gradually add the cane sugar and keep whipping until soft-peak stage.
  6. Gently fold the egg white mixture to the clementine-almond-yolk mix until thoroughly combined.
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared 9-inch springform pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour (until a skewer poked in the middle of the cake comes out clean). You will have to cover the cake with parchment (or foil or pan-lining paper) at about the 30-40 minute mark so the top doesn’t over-brown before the inside of the cake finishes baking. Let cool on a wire rack. When cool, you can take the cake out of the tin and decorate it.

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1/2 cup clementine juice.
  1. Mix everything in a bowl adjusting clementine juice and sugar to make a loose but thick glaze.

For glazed clementines:

  • 3 clementines
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  1. Slice clementines very thinly.
  2. Put sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat.   Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add clementine slices and simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Pull clementines from sugar mixture and place on parchment or silpat until cool.


Images courtesy of imdb and Recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson via Cathy Merenda.