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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.
Makes: 12-16 slices
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a separate bowl, mix the almond flours, cornmeal and baking powder.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.