For the finale for our cosy night in meal, we decided to serve Orange Polenta Cake from Ottolenghi, the Cookbook. This was to honor Yotam Ottolenghi’s new column in the New York Times that’s all about desserts and as Ottolenghi groupies it was only fitting.
This cake also allowed us to use blood oranges for a little drama! What ended up being drama was making the caramel sauce. It took three tries because I was not fully paying attention and trying to multi-task — a super bad idea when you’re boiling sugar. Make sure that when it’s time for making the caramel to be present, which would have saved me a lot of time! Think of making the caramel as a little relaxation break where no multi-tasking can distract!
After the caramel drama the rest went smoothly and I was so glad I stuck it out. This cake is out of control delicious! It’s so moist and has the most delicious hint of orange blossom. Definitely a crowd favorite.
Cosy Night In: Ottolenghi Polenta Cake
- ½ C / 90g superfine sugar
- 2 T water
- 4 t / 20g unsalted butter, diced
- 3 blood oranges
For the Cake:
- 6 ½ T / 50g plain flour
- 1 t baking powder
- ½ t salt
- 3/4 C / 200g unsalted butter
- 1 C / 200g superfine sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 t orange blossom water
- 2 ½ C / 240g ground almonds
- ¾ C / 120g quick-cook polenta (make sure it’s an instant polenta)
- 4 T orange marmalade
- 1 T water
Make sure to have all of your ingredients ready for the caramel.
- Lightly butter a 9 inch round springform cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Make sure that your parchment paper is longer than the sides to catch any syrup that may leak over (you will also want to put a catch tray under your pan in the oven.)
- Have a small cup of water by the side of the stove with a pastry brush at the ready.
- Put the sugar for the caramel topping in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the 2T of water. Gently stir to dampen the sugar evenly and then place over medium heat. Slowly bring the sugar to a boil.
- If the sugar has separated on the side of the pan use your wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan making sure the sugar doesn’t crystalize.
- After a few minutes, the water should evaporate the sugar will start to turn golden. Keep your eyes on the sugar at all times since it can easily burn at this point.
- Once your sugar is a nice golden color, remove the pan from the heat. With your face at a safe distance from the pan, add the butter.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until the butter is incorporated.
- Pour the caramel into the lined cake pan and quickly swirl it around the base so that it coats the entire bottom surface evenly.
- Zest 2 oranges and set aside
- Cut off the top and bottom off of each orange and peel off the skin using a sharp knife following the natural circular shape of the orange and peel off the remaining skin and all the white pith.
- Cut each orange horizontally into 6 slices. Remove the seeds and lay the slices tightly over the caramel. (You might need to peel and slice another orange to cover the whole space.)
For the Cake:
- Now move on to the cake batter.
- Preheat your oven to 325° F.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together lightly. Make sure they are combined well but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the eggs. Next add the reserved orange zest and the orange blossom water, followed by the almonds, polenta, and sifted dry ingredients. As soon as they are all mixed in, stop the machine.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan, making sure
- Place the batter into your cake tin. Take care to not move the oranges much. Level the batter with an icing spatula and place in the oven, over a catch tray. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick come out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- While the cake is still hot (warm it up a little if you let it sit too long, otherwise the caramel will stick to the paper), place a cardboard disk or a flat plate on top. Briskly turn over and then remove the pan and the parchment paper. Leave the cake cool completely.
For the glaze:
- To make the glaze, combine the marmalade and water for the glaze in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Sieve the glaze and brush on top of your cake.
Donna Revelli says
can cornmeal be used instead of quick cook polenta??
Asma Stewart says
I’m not sure but worth a try!
L Topley says
This is a superb recipe, I’ve made it several times now. Always comes with high praise!
Asma Stewart says
can you make this cake ahead of time? if yes, how much ahead and how would you store it?
Asma Stewart says
I’m not sure! It is great tasting for a few days.