Serves a Crowd

Orange Almond Polenta Cake

January 20, 2011
4 Ratings
  • Makes 12-16 slices
Author Notes

I once saw a recipe in an English cookery magazine for orange polenta cake with rosemary. I think I even made it for a dinner party and it satisfied guests who both loved dessert and those who were only tempted by items that were not too sweet and dessert-y. Of course I could not find the recipe. So I had to adapted one from Nigella Lawson's lemon polenta cake in hope that my version would be as good as her dessert and my apron would accentuate all the right curves like all of her’s do.

I swapped out lemon for orange zest and upped the overall quantity to get the flavor I desired. I combined two almond flours — one very expensive one made from blanched nuts and one lesser priced one (still a bit pricey, I am afraid) made from nuts with their skins on.

In the syrup to be drizzled on the hot cake, I used the juices of the three oranges I zested, plus the juice of a half a Meyer lemon to increase the intensity, and a healthy dose of Grand Manier.


What You'll Need
  • For the cake
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 7 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup almond meal from blanched almonds (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 cup almond flour from whole almonds (I used Shiloh Farms)
  • ¾ cups cornmeal
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • For the syrup
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Juice of half of a Meyer lemon
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 T Grand Manier
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9- or 10-inch spring form pan with parchment. Butter the sides of the plan well.
  2. Put the sugar in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade and process the sure for about a minute to get superfine sugar.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, pour the sugar and add the butter to it. Beat the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy which takes about 2 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the almond flours, cornmeal and baking powder.
  5. Add ¼ of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture, beat well. Add one egg and beat well. Alternate flour and egg additions until all are incorporated.
  6. Stir in the orange zest. Spread into the prepared pan and place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40-50 minutes. The middle of the cake should be a little jiggly, but a cake tester should come out clean from a dip in the middle when it is done. The middle of the cake will deflate when you take it out to cool. Do not remove the sides of the pan at this juncture.
  7. For the glaze, put the orange and lemon juice, confectionary sugar and orange liquor into a small pan and heat enough to fully melt the sugar and reduces slightly.
  8. Using the cake tester tool, poke many, tiny holes into the top of the cake. Carefully spoon the hot syrup over the cake until it’s all absorbed. Cool the cake completely with the pan still intact.
  9. To serve, remove the side of the pan and slice. Take cake to use a cake server as the middle of the cake will by soft and syrupy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • cheese1227
  • healthierkitchen
  • Kelli Kaltenbach
    Kelli Kaltenbach
I am an excellent eater (I have been all my life). I’m a pretty good cook (Ask my kids!). And my passable writing improves with alcohol (whether it's the writer or the reader that needs to drink varies by sentence.). I just published my first cookbook, Green Plate Special, which focuses on delicious recipes that help every day cooks eat more sustainably.

5 Reviews

Kelli K. June 3, 2018
Sounds heavenly!
Kelli K. June 3, 2018
Oh and grand mariner - I mean yes!
cheese1227 January 20, 2011
Wow, do you have a love of almonds or a gluten issue in your home that has you testing all of these recipes?

I have to admit that mixing the two almond flours was not a stroke of culinary genius but based on the fact that I only had a cup of the Bob's Red Mill and the store only had the Shiloh Farms (a local milling outfit) to run my second test of the cake. And I liked both the color and the texture the skin-on almond flour gave the cake but thought using only that would likely do something to its ability to hold together.

I paired this cake with a orange and almond adjustement to Brenna's cardamom cherry sauce and salted honey nuts that she served with her winning saffron semifreddo.
healthierkitchen January 20, 2011
No gluten issues, but always playing around with non-white flour options. I think I made the macaroons for Passover last year and only had the Bob's Red Mill that time though I usually have the Trader Joes and didn't think too much about it. Mine were tasty, but looked nothing like Winnie Ab's and had less body, so I figured out the difference. I was going to ask what your sauce was!
healthierkitchen January 20, 2011
Sounds delicious! I like a lighter dessert like this. It's amazing how much the Bob's Red Mill is, isn't it? I use that for some applications and the Trader Joe's (with skins) for others. I found that in Winnie Ab's macaroons, the Bob's was not a benefit and the Trader Joes was the better (and cheaper!) choice. In contrast, amousebouche's cake definitely needs the skinless version. I like how you mix the two! And I love Grand Marnier!