Blood Orange & Almond Syrup Polenta Cake

Last Friday I took the day off work to run errands and generally just enjoy a day off work. We went for lunch and once all our jobs were taken care of we took a trip to the library. I've lived here nearly 3 years and never gotten round to joining the library. We are quickly running out of room in the flat so I have had to limit the number of cookbooks I buy. I decided the best thing to do was to join the library and investigate their stock of cookbooks. I also want to learn some more about food history so I'm going to spend a long afternoon down there in the next couple of weeks. When I found the food section I was so impressed to find a brilliant selection from Nigella, Delia and Jamie to Pierre Herme, Leith's and Ottolenghi.
It was Ottolenghi's Jerusalem I was the most excited to find. I had had this book on my wishlist since it came out and hadn't gotten round to buying it so picking it up in the library was perfect. It's such an amazing book, full of recipes and flavours I'm not too familiar with but really excited to try out. There are beautiful photographs and excellent instructions for each recipe as well as information about traditional dishes and ingredients. I think even after I return this book I will go out and buy it.
This cake is the perfect antidote to these grey days. It made me so happy to bake it and I will definitely make it again. The original recipe called for clementines but I've had blood oranges on the brain and really wanted to bake with them so I swapped them in and also added some polenta in as well to add a lovely crumb texture. It doesn't look like the most impressive cake but it's simplicity is what makes it so beautiful. I love blood oranges, I remember discovering them when a friend in primary school had them and they were the most amazing red colour inside. I was so envious that my oranges were so boring and I've loved blood oranges ever since. If you're feeling the need for something a little bright and sunny in your life then this is the perfect cake.
Blood Orange & Almond Syrup Polenta Cake
200g unsalted butter, softened
380g caster sugar (save 100g for the syrup)
zest and juice of 1 blood orange
zest and juice of 1 lemon
170g ground almonds
110g polenta
5 medium eggs, beaten
100g plain flour
pinch of salt
strips of orange zest, to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/160 C Fan/350 F. Grease and line a 23cm springform tin and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter, 280g sugar and zest in a mixer on a slow speed. Don't overwork it. Mix the ground almonds and polenta and add half to the butter mixture. Continue mixing to just combine.
  3. Gradually add the eggs as the mixer is running, scrape down the sides a few times. Add the remaining almonds and polenta with the flour and salt and combine until smooth.
  4. Spread the batter into the tin and smooth out on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes and remove when a cocktail stick comes out clean.
  5. About 5 minutes before it's ready to come out the oven, put the citrus juices (it should be about 120ml) and the remaining 100g of sugar in a small pan and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.
  6. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the hot syrup over the cake until it has all soaked through. Leave the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Garnish with the orange zest and serve.