After a week of flops and failures in the kitchen, I'm back with this simple stunner of a cake that thankfully was a "piece of cake", to make. Last week was one of those, chalk one up to experience weeks. Multiple recipes were tested, and multiple recipes ended up in the trash. It was heartbreaking, and frustrating. Rip your hair out and stomp up and down frustrating if you must know. Once I had a recipe I thought would work, shooting the photos was well, another challenge. It was time to step away, shake myself up a cocktail and try another day.
But I rallied, and decided that my low sugar challenge post/recipe could wait for later. I needed to regroup, get my kitchen legs back and bake something that would be a pleasure to make, use seasonal ingredients and soothe my sorry pride. This Meyer Lemon and Blood Orange Polenta Cake was exactly what I needed. Lightly fragranced with orange blossom water, the cake is a dream. And speaking of orange blossom water, have you ever tried it? Let's just say it's my new thing.. I find myself putting it in everything!
Almond flour compliments the polenta perfectly and the lightly candied fruit provides a sweet and slightly bitter foil for all the goodness going on underneath. Simple and elegant this dessert definitely helped me get my groove back. Confidence and sanity restored and disaster averted. Now if all disasters could so easily be managed.
Citrus Polenta Cake
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook
For the topping:
2 medium Blood Oranges
1 Meyer Lemon
1 Cup sugar
1/2 C. water
Slice oranges and lemon 1/8" thick, and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the water and the sugar over medium heat, stirring periodically until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the fruit, stir gently to cover in the syrup and reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, just until the white pith is beginning to look translucent. Remove from the syrup with a slotted spoon and set on parchment paper. Allow to cool while you make the cake batter. Save the syrup for brushing on the cake before serving.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8' cake pan with parchment paper, making sure the paper goes completely up the sides. Arrange the orange and lemon slices in the pan in a decorative way and set aside.
For the cake:
6 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C. + 2 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C. sugar
zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon
2 tsp. orange blossom water
2 1/2 C. almond meal
3/4 C. quick cooking polenta
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the sugar and the butter just until incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time incorporating fully, then add the orange blossom water and the zest. Add the almond meal, polenta and the other dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Avoid over mixing. Carefully spoon the cake batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Tap the pan a few times on the counter to evenly distribute the batter.
Place on a baking sheet and bake 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then place a serving plate over the pan and flip it upside down. Carefully lift off the pan, then the parchment paper. Reheat the sugar, citrus syrup and brush over the cake. Allow to cool to room temperature and slice. Serves 8.