Seasonal cooking: Blood orange Polenta Cake, blood orange Negroni and a Burrata salad
Updated: Jan 16
I'm just a little bit obsessed with blood oranges at this time of year. Sunshine on a plate, when it's grey and wet outside.
I rather like winter salads. This one from the Great British Chefs website with creamy burrata is anything but virtuous!
I loved the sound of Ottolenghi's cake and decided to give it a try.
For the batter:
50g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder (I used a sachet) ½ tsp salt 200g unsalted butter 200g caster sugar 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten 2 tsp orange blossom water 240g ground almonds 120g quick-cook polenta
For the caramel topping: 100g caster sugar 20g unsalted butter, diced
3 blood oranges, you might only need 2 if using another type of orange
For the glaze: 4 tbsp orange marmalade 1 tbsp water
Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
To make the caramel place the caster sugar in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. (I did this stage on high first time and burnt it.) Don’t stir the sugar or it will crystallise. Let the sugar melt completely and turn to a deep golden colour. Then add the butter and stir quickly. Pour the caramel over the lined base and quickly swirl around so it coats the surface evenly before setting.
Grate the zest of 2 oranges, making sure you don’t reach the white part of the skin. Set the grated zest aside. Using a small, sharp knife, slice off 1 cm from the top and bottom of each orange . Standing each orange up on a board , carefully and neatly follow the curve of the orange with the knife to peel off the skin and all the white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices. Remove the pips and lay out the slices tightly on the cake tin base over the caramel making sure you cover all of it.
To make the batter: Preheat the oven to 170C/ Gas mark 3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Ideally using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar lightly (I only have an electric hand whisk and it did the job ok). Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture.
Gradually add the eggs whilst the machine is on low speed (if you see the mix start to curdle/separate, add a teaspoon of your flour mixture).
Next add the reserved orange zest and orange blossom water, followed by the almonds, polenta and the sifted flour mix. As soon as they are all mixed in, stop the machine.
Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single layer. Level the mixture with a palette knife or spoon and place in the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out dry (I prefer to undercook this than overcook it).
Remove from the oven and leave for about 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack, removing the baking paper and leave it to cool completely. (The cake needs to be warm in order for the caramel not to stick to the paper when you remove it)
For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass it through a sieve. While the glaze is still hot, lightly brush the top of the cake with it.
I served the cake with Greek yoghurt that had a little honey in it and some crushed pistachios. It was a big hit with my guests, definitely worth all the washing up!
Finally I knocked together a quick cocktail. The classic Negroni with a fruity twist.
50 ml Gin
50 ml Sweet Vermouth
50 ml Campari
50 ml freshly squeezed blood orange (I used the juice from half an orange)
Slice of orange to garnish.
Simply fill a tumbler with ice. Put all the ingredients in a shaker. Shake and pour. Garnish with the orange.
If you love blood oranges as much as I do, please also see my other post.