I had some polenta left from a previous recipe for a while and I was thinking hard how to use it. So when I received a catering order for a pikkujoulu (pre-Christmas) party last week, I decided to put the polenta into good use and make a gluten free cake with it! Result: the sticky, orange-y, syrupy cake finished in seconds!
So, I don’t know the origin of this recipe – there is a version that Jamie Oliver did, and then there is a very similar version where orange is replaced with lemon in Nigella Lawson’s website. And there are loads of people who adapted the recipe from either of them! I, on the other hand, adapted the recipe from Donal Skehan’s website – it’s also almost the same, but his measurements were more suitable for my cake size. The only difference I made was to use ground cardamoms instead of cardamom pods / mortar and pestle challenge.
The cake has such a big amount of orange zest that together with cardamoms, it creates the absolutely loveliest aroma! Plus, there is the orange syrup used to moist the cake in the end so imagine how fresh it tastes and smells in the end! It is actually a very dense cake, but all these lovely aromas keep it fresh and light nonetheless.
You can put different kinds of nuts (Skehan’s pistachios work great actually) and orange zest on top of the cake to decorate, or you can just serve the cake plain and then add a dollop of crème fraîche on top of each slice with a little bit more syrup and orange zest. Hope you enjoy this lovely, cosy cake!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
(makes 1 cake with cake mould that is 22cm in diameter)
For the cake:
225 gr. butter, softened in room temperature (plus a little more to grease the cake mould)
225 gr. granulated white sugar
225 gr. almond flour (this is just finely ground almonds – you can make it yourself in a food processor using blanched almonds)
100 gr. polenta (you can find polenta in K-market Kamppi, Stockmann and Ruohonjuuri, and maybe even some other places)
1.5 tsp baking powder (make sure it’s gluten free if you are in this diet)
2 tsp ground cardamoms
Zest of 2 oranges
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp vanilla sugar)
Juice of 2 oranges
3 tbsp honey
To serve (optional):
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Put a baking sheet at the base of a cake mould (I use springform mould) and grease with butter.
2. In a mixing bowl, put butter and sugar and whisk until they get creamy, light and fluffy (for at least 5 minutes in medium to high speed).
3. Add eggs, one at a time. After the addition of each egg, whisk the mixture well before adding next egg.
4. Add almond flour, polenta, baking powder and cardamom (alternatively, you can first mix these dry ingredients in another bowl, before adding to creamy mixture). Whisk until the ingredients just combine. Use spatula to scrape the mixture at the base if necessary, in the middle of this combining session.
5. Put aside 1/2 tsp of orange zest, add the zest to the mixture. Add also vanilla extract (or vanilla sugar). Whisk more to combine the ingredients, but try not to over mix.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake mould. Flatten the surface as much as possible and spread the batter evenly on the mould using a spatula. Put in the oven in medium rack and bake for 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (At 40 minutes mark, if the cake is still too moist in the middle, transfer it to top rack and continue baking like that).
7. While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. In a sauce pan, put orange juice and honey and whisk a little. Put on medium high heat, whisking occasionally and cook the syrup until it boils and honey dissolves. Once cooked, put aside and let it cool a little until the cake is ready.
8. When the cake is baked and out of the oven, let it cool for about 3 minutes in the pan. Then take it out of the pan if you like / if you can – but do not force too much because it will be still hot and soft at this point. I only took away the sides of the pan. While the cake is still warm, make holes using a toothpick or a wooden skewer. Spoon or brush half of the syrup on top of the cake, keep the rest for the final serving on plates. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche on top if you like (actually, plain, thick yogurt works too!). Pour a little more syrup in the end. Enjoy!