How do I like my eggs? In cake, duh!
~ Internet image ~
I’ve mentioned Jamie Oliver a few times on this blog. He is after all one of the most successful TV chefs over the last decade or so. We all know his particular style cultivated since the first TV series and book, The Naked Chef. He has managed to adapt his personal and cooking style over the years and I still enjoy his shows. So as you have probably guessed, Jamie introduced me to this amazing Orange Olive Oil Polenta Cake. There are lots of recipes for such cakes around, but I wrote down Jamie’s recipe as he was dictating it on his TV show. I haven’t actually been able to find the exact recipe from the TV episode on his website, although he has this delicious looking one made with butter instead of olive oil. I have made some changes to the recipe, but I will definitely call this Orange Olive Oil Polenta Cake Jamie Oliver-inspired.
Gluten-free … or not
Polenta cakes are generally made with polenta and almond flour, making them gluten-free. I also think the combination of the two flours creates the perfect cake texture, ready to soak up a delicious flavoured syrup. Unfortunately, I had to adjust the recipe here, as I can’t use almond flour due to my husband’s nut allergy. So I decided to replace the almond flour with semolina. Semolina is a coarse durum wheat flour used to make pasta and couscous. It is not gluten-free but otherwise works perfectly in this recipe. I have made this cake with almond flour and with semolina and although they are not quite the same, both are delicious. It’s quite different from traditional South African puddings like Malva Pudding or Milk Tart, but it is definitely equally delicious!
But not quite vegan
Baking with butter can normally not be beaten, except if your recipe lends itself to using extra virgin olive oil. Maybe it’s because polenta is the Italian form of maize flour, but the olive oil makes this cake what it is! I have not even been tempted to try a recipe that uses butter. And don’t worry – there is no distinct olivey taste – just undertones of the fruity olive oil. This cake does use eggs though and as the flours are quite coarse, it really needs the eggs to make the cake lighter. I am sure an experienced vegan baker could successfully replace the eggs with an adequate substitute. The only thing left to mention is the gooey orange syrup which completes the cake. It combines fantastically with the fruity olive flavours and keeps the cake super moist!
Orange Olive Oil Polenta Cake
For the Cake
- 200 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 150 g light brown sugar (honey works very well too)
- 3 eggs
- 200 g semolina flour (or ground almonds)
- 100 g polenta (coarse)
- 5 ml baking powder
- 2,5 ml salt
- 3 oranges, zested
- 100 ml orange juice
For the Syrup
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (or honey)
- 100 ml orange juice
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a 25cm diameter tart dish that is at least 4cm deep.
- Whisk the sugar and olive oil together with an electric beater.
- Add the eggs one by one beating well between each addition.
- Add the semolina, polenta, salt, baking powder, orange zest and orange juice. Mix well.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tart dish and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and set in the middle.
For the Syrup
- Ten minutes before the cake is ready, put the orange juice and sugar into a small pot and simmer together for about 5 minutes making sure all the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the syrup over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Decorate with peeled orange slices.
- Serve the cake at room temperature with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.
- You can make the cake in a 25cm diameter springform cake tin. It has great structure once baked and can be served out of the tin on a cake platter.
- In the Jamie Oliver TV episode I watched, he used honey in both the cake and the syrup. I have made the cake using the honey, but as I personally don't like too much honey and it is quite expensive, I mostly use brown sugar when baking this cake.
- As mentioned, I have made the cake with ground almonds instead of semolina. Once I even baked one semolina cake and one almond cake. Of the five people who tested both cakes, four preferred the semolina and only I preferred the ground almonds. You could try out both options, but semolina costs about a tenth of what ground almonds cost.
- While I am simmering the syrup, I peel and slice another orange and let the slices simmer in the syrup for a few minutes. I even add a segment of the orange peel to the syrup. Before I pour the syrup over the cake I lift out the orange peel and slices. Once the syrup has soaked into the cake I decorate it with the orange slices and some finely chopped orange peel. If you would like to see a video on peeling, segmenting and slicing an orange, click here.
- The orange zest and juice can be replaced by any other citrus fruit, like lemon, mandarin or blood orange, or a combination of these.