Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Orange and polenta cake

Orange and polenta cake
The first time I had this cake was on a trip to London with my sister. We got the night bus from Glasgow and crawled into Victoria bus station at 6am. Bleary eyed we marched round "the big smoke" for the day before going to see Hefner in a little pub in Noting Hill. Night came and we headed back to the bus station for our second night on the night bus back up to Scotland. Grim.

My sister and I love fancy cakes and going to Fortnum and Mason was always one of those things that we liked to do when we were wee. We liked to pretend we were princesses and buy hairgrips with our birthday money. Anyway, on this lovely sunny May day I bought a slice orange polenta cake from Fortnum’s and sat eating it in Hyde Park watching some posh folk fake boxing with their personal trainers. Even though this was all about 4 years ago it is amazing how the taste of this cake has brought back so many memories. 

It's a great cake, interesting texture, summery but making the most of the orange season coming to its end. Blood oranges are at their best this month, please use them if you are lucky enough to get hold of them. This cake works equally well for dinner with friends or with an afternoon cuppa. On the downside, this cake does go past it's best within 24 hours of making it. I had better get munching...

Orange polenta cake (adapted from BBC food)

250g unsalted butter
250g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
140g medium milled polenta
200g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
zest of 3 oranges
juice of 1 and 1/2 oranges

200ml orange juice (approx 1 and 1/2 oranges)
200g golden caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Grease and flour a 23cm springform cake tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with an electric whisk, it will take about 4 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, be careful not to over mix. 
Add the sugar and polenta and mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Sift the flour from a height and again mix.
Finally add in the zest and the orange juice. Mix and pour into the tin. It is quite a stiff mix and will settle out in the tin as it cooks.

While the cake is cooking you can get going on the syrup.
Heat the remaining juice and sugar on the hob on a medium heat. It will take about 8-10 minutes to thicken up to the consistency of single cream. Try not to let it go too thick as otherwise it has difficulty penetrating the sponge fully. The colour of the syrup will also turn a slight golden hue when it is ready.

The cake will take 45 minutes to bake and is ready when it is springy to touch.
Whilst it is cooling on a wire rack pierce it with a thin skewer about 20 times and then spoon the syrup over it until all is absorbed. 

Comes recommended with a good dollop of crème fraise and if you are being fancy another few shaving of the zest.


  1. i tried making my mums only cake on her list of cakes she can make yesterday, yogurt cake. it went suprisingly well but wish i'd seen this yesterday as it looks totally scrumptious. you and your sister sound lovely

  2. Finally I found a recipe that can put polenta to good use! Thanks :)

  3. Thanks maria, ive just started the blog so its great to get comments. I really like polenta, another way to try it is with stew. When i was in berlin last month i had soft polenta with wild boar stew and fried wild mushrooms on top. Really yummy. take care