Orange, polenta and olive oil cake with whipped mascarpone and thyme

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Bold, bright, rich and zesty, this dense flourless polenta cake is made using a simple orange purée that's mixed into the olive oil-rich batter. Naturally gluten-free, it's the perfect bake for the colder months when you fancy something sweet.

First published in 2020





Preheat an oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Place 2 of the oranges in a saucepan of cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, or until soft and tender. Drain the oranges, place in a blender and blitz until smooth
Grease and line a 23cm cake tin. Sprinkle 10g of the caster sugar over the base of the tin, then peel the remaining 3 oranges. Remove as much white pith as possible from the segments, then use a sharp knife to cut the fruit into even slices through the centre (removing any seeds you come across). Layer these orange slices in the tin on top of the sugar, then set aside
Mix the polenta, baking powder, almonds and caster sugar in a bowl and then whisk in the eggs, followed by the olive oil and orange purée. Once the mixture is nice and smooth, pour it into the tin on top of the orange slices
Place the cake in the oven and cook for 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for at least an hour before turning out
While the cake cools, whisk together the mascarpone, icing sugar and half the picked thyme leaves
Serve slices of the cake with the mascarpone on the side and more thyme sprinkled over

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Ben Tish is the chef-director of The Stafford London. His latest book, Moorish, celebrates the flavours of Sicily and other parts of the Mediterranean.

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