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A Seasonal Bake: Orange and Polenta Cake.


Like so many of you, we’re becoming much more conscious about our impact on the world these days. One really great change we can all try to make or be aware of, is to get in tune with the seasonal fruit and veg calendar. Put simply that just means learning which fruit and veg are readily available and at their best, and when.

It’s become normal for us to be able to pick up most fruit and veg from supermarkets three hundred and sixty-five days a year, seven days a week and now even twenty-four hours a day. We don’t think anything of being able to buy a punnet of strawberries in November. Or does it rarely cross our minds what that means. Besides the fact that said strawberries will have probably flown a million miles and halfway across the world to get here and well, if you really love your strawberries you and I both know that they’ll taste a heck of a lot better come British summertime. That’s because they’re in season. They’re also grown up and down the UK {so far less air miles!} and pretty easy to grow in your own back garden. But that’s a whole other blogpost entirely….

Whilst eating more in season food makes the most of UK grown produce, it also means that it helps to reduce our carbon footprint and damage to the planet. Eating in season is also about eating what mother nature provides us, and when. That also means better tasting produce and less of the need for chemicals. So the oranges and citrus in this recipe obviously aren’t UK grown but they are in season and so are the most delicious and juicy during the UK winter time.

So what’s ‘In’ in February? Well much like January we’re still very much in winter fruit and veg mode on this side of the world. That means, that still at their very best are all of your sweet root vegetables such as parsnips, carrots and swedes. And also a lot of your dark leafy greens such as cabbage and cavolo nero. Fruit-wise it’s still all about your apples and pears and citrus. Which is exactly why this recipe is so delicious!

This recipe is adapted from a Jamie Oliver one and what’s great is although the original recipe uses regular oranges; this can be swapped around for almost any other citrus-ey combination which means its perfect for using up those odd couple of clementines or mandarins you might have lying around in the fruit bowl. If you can get your hands on some blood oranges, give them a whirl too! They’re a great mix of sweet and sour.


200 g unsalted butter, (at room temperature), plus extra for greasing.

200 g brown sugar. We used dark brown sugar this time as it’s all that was in the cupboard and it worked so well!

3 large free-range eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

200 g ground almonds

100 g coarse polenta

2 oranges – we used blood oranges this time but have used four small clementines before, or even three clementines and a lemon!

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional – whilst the recipe calls for this you don’t notice it when it’s not there!)

1 teaspoon baking powder


5 cardamom pods

250 ml orange juice , (from 3-4 oranges) – we’ve also cheated and used 100% fresh orange not from concentrate with great results.

30 ml orange blossom water – again optional!

125 g golden caster sugar


Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 320 degrees farenheit – Gas mark 2. Grease a 20cm cake tin and line with grease proof paper. Grease again.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy. If it looks a little gritty don’t worry at this stage as it’ll all dissolve when cooking. Beat in the eggs one at a time and add the vanilla essence.

In a small bowl gently combine the ground almonds, polenta, orange zest, orange blossom water and baking powder and stir. Add this to the wet mix a little at a time and stir until fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for around 40-45 minutes or until you insert a skewer and it comes out clean.

Leave to cool for ten minutes and then gently turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Be careful, it’s very fragile!

To make the syrup crush the cardamom pods and add to the orange juice along with the sugar and orange blossom water if using. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved and then simmer on a medium heat and reduce by half.

Prick the cake all over and generously brush over the syrup. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt or crème fraiche and a drizzle of any leftover syrup. Cake will keep for four to five days in an airtight container in the fridge. If it lasts that long!

I’m not sure what it is but as soon as the Christmas feasting has been done, we’re always craving the sharp and sour and fresher flavours and this cake ticks all of those boxes. It lasts well – if anything it tastes better after a couple of days! A great big dollop of crème fraiche is the perfect creamy-but-sour accompaniment for this delicious orange-y syrup-y treat!

Let us know if you have a go! Better still take a pic and tag us in it!


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