Polenta is technically a specific dish made from cornmeal, so I suppose this is really a cornmeal cake, but polenta just sounds so much more exotic I’m sticking with it as a title. Cornmeal is a grainy, golden flour that and produces a lovely textured cake, slightly gritty but moist and firm, and it combines really well with almonds. It’s a great gluten free combination that unlike a lot of gluten free mixes, delivers a real, uncompromising cake.
Cornmeal doesn’t have a super-strong flavour, which is means that the delicate flavour of the orange flesh and the sharp zestiness of the rind can settle well into the almond, with some lemon adding an extra burst of citrus. From the outset, this cake was a winner with the tasters declaring “this tastes like an actual cake”. A bit of investigation clarified that what this meant was it tasted like a deli-cake, or a slice that would be served in a cafe with a cup of tea or coffee and a dollop of cream. I’m taking that as all good!
Here’s the recipe.
- 4 tbsp orange olive oil (or use regular olive oil)
- 4 eggs
- 4 dates
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 1 tsp orange essence (optional)
- 1 organic, unwaxed orange - segments & zest
- 1 organic, unwaxed lemon - segments & zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 large cooking apple, peeled & cored
- 1½ cups ground almonds
- 1 cup polenta/cornmeal
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum (optional but adds to the texture)
- Combine the eggs, dates, olive oil, raw honey and orange essence in a blender and blend until smooth and somewhat thickened.
- Add the orange flesh and zest, the lemon flesh, zest and juice and the apple.
- Blend this mix until very smooth.
- Combine all the dry ingredients - ground almonds, cornmeal, baking powder and xanthan gum if using, and mix loosely together.
- Pour the blended wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients.
- Mix together briskly, but don't overmix.
- Pour into a non-stick or greased baking tin.
- This mixture fits an 11" x 7" tin.
- Cook in a pre-heated oven (150-175C) and cook for 35 to 40 mins or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.
- Cover with parchment as soon as top is firm, about 10 minutes in, to prevent burning.
Xanthan gum isn't at all essential, but it's adds a bit of a stretch factor into flours that don't naturally have it.