Mandarin syrup cake

Serves: 10-12
Prep: 10 mins plus 1.5 hours to cook mandarins
Cooks In: 1 hour

Mandarin syrup cake

This is an incredibly clever syrup cake — it’s gluten free, dairy free and has no added fat (no oil or butter), yet is as moist and delicious as cakes get.


I love this syrup cake! It uses whole fruit boiled until soft and then you blitz it up (skin, pith and all), which gives the cake an amazingly intense mandarin flavour and beautifully moist texture. This cake is perfect for an afternoon treat, birthday cake and is even loved by kids. It keeps well for up to a week in the fridge, can be frozen, and is nice eaten warm or cold. Serve with some unsweetened yoghurt or creme fraiche for extra deliciousness. This recipe is from my second book, Good Food Cook Book which you can purchase here on my site under ‘buy cookbooks’.


Print Recipe


  • mandarins 330-370g (3-6 whole mandarins, depending on size)
  • ground almonds 200g
  • sugar 1 cup
  • eggs 5
  • vanilla extract or essence 1 teaspoon
  • baking powder 1 teaspoon


  • sugar ¼ cup
  • mandarin juice of 1
  • lime juice of 1

To serve

  • natural unsweetened greek yoghurt or crème fraîche (optional)


  1. Place whole mandarins in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Cover with a lid and boil gently for about 1 hour (this softens the fruit and also gets rid of some of the bitter taste from the skins). Drain and allow mandarins to cool slightly.
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/355 Fahrenheit. Grease and line a 21cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.
  1. Remove the stem of the mandarins, then cut in half and remove any pips. Place fruit (skin, pith, flesh and all) in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Add all other cake ingredients and blitz until well combined.
  1. Pour into prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cover cake with tinfoil halfway through cooking time to avoid the top browning too much.
  1. Remove cake from oven and leave in the tin while you make the syrup.
  1. Mix sugar, mandarin and lime juice together and pour over cake while warm. Allow cake to cool slightly before removing from tin.


  • Serve warm or cold with greek yoghurt or crème fraîche.


Nutritional Information Per Serving
27.2 g
26.7 g
Total Fat
11.5 g
6.2 g


  • Carolyn Pretorius

    Can I cook the mandarin’s the night before? I would love to take this for dessert to a friends place but I only have 1 1/2 hours when I get home from work before I have to leave again.

    • you absolutely can! Just leave in the fridge overnight 🙂

    • You can eve cook the cake the night before if you want…it keeps well in the fridge

  • Bridget

    I cooked the mandarins in the microwave on high covered for 10 minutes, this worked fine, cake was awesome,!!

  • Sue Stagg

    Made this for a friends dinner party and as had to cater to my elderly mother, who was coming to the dinner and can eat only very soft food, it was perfect. Absolutely delicious and easy to make.

    • Thanks Sue, awesome to hear you mother could eat it and enjoyed it!

  • Keren Oey

    Hi Nadia! I only have access to almond meal. That shouldn’t alter the recipe right? 🙂

    • That’s fine Karen – will still work perfectly! The only difference between almond meal and flour is that generally almond meal has the almond skins in the mixture still (ground up), so the cake batter will end up being a slightly darker colour, and texture may be a little bit more fibrous, but yes it will definitely still work!

      • Keren Oey

        I shall proceed then!

  • Shell Barrett

    Superb! Cooked 2 good sized NZ tangelos the night before, used almond meal and brown sugar instead of white. Dished it up with whipped cream, the Asian friends we had over thought it was delicious flavour and not too sweet (what we and they prefer). Have your signed book Nadia and just love the recipes, THANKYOU so much for sharing so many good dishes/recipes. ️Blessings this Christmas x

    • Great to hear Shell! Mmm….tangelo cake – nice twist!
      Thanks so much for the feedback! Have a wonderful (delicious) Christmas!

  • Çağrı Gökalp Salman

    I’ve use ground hazelnut instead of ground almonds and honey instead of sugar (half dose of sugar’s) and the result is amazing! Great recipe. Thank you 🙂

    • That sounds delicious! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Wendy Wilkinson

    Was the syrup meant to be heated to dissolve the sugar, or as your recipe says just mix it together and pour over the cake.

    • Yep just mix it together and pour it over the cake while the cake is still warm 🙂

      • Dijesh Chhotu

        What kind of sugar for the cake and syrup??

  • Glenda Howie

    Nadia – I love this cake and I have made it before; everyone loves it. However, I want to make it for a 90th birthday next week and a friend is going to ice it (so it’s a ‘pretty’ cake). Should I not ‘syrup’ it?? Thanks.

    • Hi Glenda, great to hear you’re a fan of this cake! You can still syrup it and then ice it once all the syrup has soaked in – I think a cream cheese icing would be lovely. You could make it the day before and your friend could ice it on the day. Enjoy!

      • Glenda Howie

        Thanks, Nadia. That’s exactly what I’ll do 🙂

  • Lucie Červená

    Hey Nadia, I tried this recipe once and and it was so awesome, thank you!
    I am going to bake it for my brother for his b-day and I have a question. Can I use walnuts instead of almonds? Thanky you and keep up your amazing work.

    • Hi Lucie, it would work with ground walnuts also, however I think the taste would be much stronger. almonds have a much more ‘neutral’ flavour than walnuts. Perhaps you could use half and half? Using some hazelnuts would be very nice too

      • Lucie Červená

        Thanks for you answer. I used half walnuts and half almond because part of my family is alergic to hazelnuts. The cake had light brown color but the taste was delicious (my brother ate the it before his b-day party started.. haha). Thank you again