Orange Polenta Cake
First off, I have to apologise for my lazy blogging recently. I have failed to blog as much as I usually do due to starting my Apprenticeship! It has been scary, nerve racking, exciting and fun all at the same time. I’m starting to feel part of the team at Claridges now and, even though I feel sick with nerves when I get up at 5 every morning, I’m beginning to feel more relaxed about being in the kitchen. Every member of the team is being really helpful and I’m starting to understand a few more things now. Its really interesting seeing how a pastry kitchen operates and it was definitely a shock to see the sheer amount of work everyone has to do in one day. Looking forward to next week as I continue at Claridges as well as starting my Patisserie course at Westminster College! Eeek, exciting to finally start everything.
Now onto this beauty of a cake. One of my obsessions at the moment is Yotam Ottolenghi. My mum recently bought his cookbook and I have been divulging through it ever since. His recipes are interesting and unique but simple, using great ingredients and really enhancing their flavours. I’ve never used polenta before so was intrigued when I first saw this recipe. My mum wasn’t too keen on the sound of polenta, thinking it would be too grainy, but she was converted after her first slice. I really like this cake as its not too intimidating or fancy, it just makes the best use of its ingredients. My favourite part was the edges where the syrup had begun to caramelise the orange pieces. The sponge to this cake is moist and, contrary to what I thought beforehand, not dense. It has a slight floral element to it due to the orange blossom. I cannot thank Ottolenghi enough for this wonderful recipe and for creating such a picturesque summer dessert.
Ingredients – Recipe from Ottolenghi The Cookbook
- 50g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 200g unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp orange blossom water
- 240g ground almonds
- 120g quick-cook polenta
- 90g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 20g unsalted butter, diced
- 3 oranges (I used more than this, so buy a few extra just in case)
- 4 tbsp orange marmalade
- 1 tbsp water
Grease a 20cm round cake tin with soft butter and line the base and sides with baking paper. Make sure that you cut the base circle slightly larger than needed so that it extends up the sides of the tin a little to stop the syrup from leaking.
Have a pastry brush and a cup of water by the side of the oven. Put the sugar and water for the caramel in a large saucepan. Shake gently to allow the water to wet the sugar before placing onto a medium heat. Bring the sugar to the boil and using your pastry brush and water, brush down the sides of the pan to get rid of any crystals that begin to form. Once your sugar is a nice golden colour, add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until it is smooth. Pour the caramel over the lined base and quickly swirl around so that it coats the surface completely.
Next grate the zest of 2 of for oranges and set aside. Cut off the top and bottom of each orang and, standing it on one of the flat sides, peel off the skin using a sharp knife following the natural shape of the orange. Slice each orange into thin slices, removing any pips as you go, and lay neatly next to each other over the top of your caramel. Make sure you cover the whole surface.
Pre heat your oven to 170C. Cream the butter and sugar together, making sure to not add in too much air. Add each egg one at a time and mix to incorporate. Add the orange zest and blossom water, polenta and almonds. Sift your dry ingredients into the mix as well and stir together until just combined. Pour the batter into your cake tin, being careful not to move your oranges, and level with a knife. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes and turn out the cake.
Once the cake is completely cool, combine the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and heat for a minute. Sieve the glaze if need be and brush on top of your cake to give it a beautiful shine.