Sticky orange polenta cake


First published in 2015
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Over the centuries, many culinary inventions have been inspired by the scarcity of basic ingredients, such as flour and eggs. Necessity is the mother of invention... This cake is definitely one of those creations. Who would have thought that whole oranges and olive oil could make such a grand cake? Sweet, sticky and addictive, the cake has a shelf life of at least a week if you keep it in an airtight tin. Serve it either hot or cold.

Recipe taken from John's book, My Kind of Food: Recipes I Love to Cook at Home (published by Headline, September 2015).




For the syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin
Put 1 orange and 1 lemon into a large pan, cover with water, and place a circle of greaseproof paper over the top so the fruit sits under the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Take off the heat
Toast the blanched almonds in a dry frying pan. Put them in a food processor and blitz until finely ground
Take the cooked orange and lemon out of the pan. Cut them in half and pick out the seeds. Juice the other fresh orange and lemon (throw away the shells). Put the cooked fruit (skins and all) and extra freshly squeezed juice in the food processor and blend to make a paste
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the salt until foaming. Add the sugar and beat again, then add the orange paste, almonds and olive oil. Beat again
In a separate bowl, mix the polenta and baking powder, then gently fold this into the orange mixture until it is all mixed together
Pour the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean
Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the orange juice and sugar in a pan and simmer over a low heat until you have a glossy syrup
Turn the cake out of the tin onto a serving plate and pour the syrup over it while it’s warm
Top tip: If you wrap up the cake (without its syrup) in a sheet of greaseproof paper and a clean tea towel it will stay moist, become stickier and last for about a week
First published in 2015
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