We had a work morning tea last Friday and as a team senior, I was volunteered to bake a birthday cake for one of my team members. Without a second thought, I knew exactly which cake I wanted to bake - Orange Polenta Cake!! I found this beautiful recipe from my beloved Ottolenghi cookbook and have been waiting for an oppoturnity to bake this rustic yet sophisticated cake.
The cake was beautiful looking and tasting, and the caramel and orange combination works wonderfully. The ground almonds and polenta provide a beautiful coarse-grained quality to the crumb. It's not a simple one-bowl affair but it's worth the effort!!
Orange Polenta Cake
for caramel layer:
- 1/2 C sugar
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 navel oranges
- 1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 C sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp orange blossom water
- 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 C ground almonds
- 2/3 C quick-cooking polenta
- 1/4 C marmalade
- 1 Tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9″ cake pan and line with parchment.
In a small saucepan, add the sugar and water, scraping up any sugar from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Over medium heat bring to a boil, swirling occasionally and without stirring, so that the caramel colors evenly. Quickly take off the heat and add butter (it will foam up) and stir with a wooden spoon. Put back on medium heat for a few seconds, stirring. Quickly pour caramel into the prepared cake pan, tilting so it coats as evenly as you can get it.
Grate zest from the oranges and reserve. With a paring knife, cut away the peel, including the white pith layer. Cut citrus in 1/4″ slices, crosswise. Arrange on top of the caramel.
Prepare the cake: with the paddle attachment of an electic mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Mix in orange blossom water and reserved zest.
In a medium bowl, add polenta and almond meal. Sift in flour. Add baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture until just combined.
Spread batter over the caramel-orange layer. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the center, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire cooling rack or a cake plate. Remove parchment.
For glaze, heat marmalade and 1 Tbsp water until smooth. Brush on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.