Orange Polenta Cake

orange polenta cake
Orange polenta cake

It’s the last day of February and I am still left with some pictures from last month that I hadn’t posted. Rather than feeling I-wish-I-had-posted-earlier, I might as well, now. When I go visiting, I usually bake a cake and carry it along. Nothing fancy. So when I went to my hometown I packed a bucketful of cakes for family and relatives. It made sense to pack them together in a confined space where they would stand the bumps of our hilly roads on a 7-8 hour drive. I had photographed a Dundee cake in a mustard field with the flowers in full bloom some time ago and it was a wish that I would take a picture of the scenic view with my cake in the foreground. But before we reached the place with better views, the sun started playing hide and seek. Worried about the light, I told my son to hold the cake and clicked this picture. The hills beyond aren’t the prettiest but at least I had a picture! Without a wall in the background!:))

Dundee cake

The picture below, taken a few years ago on the same route would have made a better setting. Sigh. Anyway this is the first recipe that I made from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book. I still had some polenta left over and oranges were (still is) in season. And what would be better than an orange/polenta cake?

On the way to my hometown, Haflong

50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
240g ground almonds
2 tsp orange blossom water
120g quick-cook polenta

Caramel topping:
90g caster sugar
2 tbs water
20g butter, diced
2 oranges, and maybe another extra one

Glaze (optional)
4tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp water

orange polenta cake

Grease a 20cm round baking tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment.
Put the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the water. Let the sugar come to a boil. When it turns to a nice golden colour, remove the pan from the heat. Add the chunks of butter. Stir with a wooden spoon and pour the mix on the prepared cake tin. Tilt so that the caramel spreads evenly.
Grate the zest of two oranges and set it aside. Slice off 1 cm from the top and bottom of each orange. Standing each orange on a board, follow the natural curves of the orange with a knife and peel off the skin and the white pith.
Cut each horizontally into 6 slices. If the space in the tin is not filled up you might need to cut another one.
Heat the oven to 170C. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugar. Gradually add the eggs. Next the reserved orange zest can go in followed by the orange blossom water. Then add the almond flour, the polenta and sifted dry ingredients.
Transfer the batter to the prepared tin without disturbing the orange layer. Level the top with a palette knife. Then bake the cake for about 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 5 minutes.
Place an inverted plate on top of the tin and turn over. Remove the lining paper and let the cake cool completely.

orange polenta cake

For the glaze, bring the water and the marmalade to a boil. Then pass the mixture through a sieve. Lightly brush the top of the cake while the mixture is still hot.
The only ingredient I didn’t use was orange blossom water because I didn’t have it. But since the ingredients are from the book, I felt I shouldn’t leave it out. I still use a hand whisk for my cakes but the recipe in the book mentions an electric mixer. This a rather unusual-tasting cake but my nieces (for whom I had baked) loved it!!

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