Monday, June 03, 2013

Almond, polenta, orange and cardamom cake with honey and citrus syrup

A's brother T got married in Wales, and as part of the festivities guests were asked to supply cakes for a cake table. I needed something that would travel well and keep for a couple of days as I wasn't sure I'd have time to bake something on the day. This looked perfect for the gluten-free guests - a dense cake with some interesting spice to it (a little nod to T's time in India) and with the delicious nubbly crumb that almonds and polenta create. It's not the most beautiful cake to look at, but its fine eating qualities make up for it!

Almond, polenta, orange and cardamom cake with honey and citrus syrup
Adapted from Dan’s recipe which is in turn adapted from Nigel Slater‘s recipe in the Observer


220 g butter
220 g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
zest and juice of a unwaxed orange
300 g ground almonds
150 g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
12 green cardamom pods
for the glaze: juice of two oranges, two lemons and 4 tablespoons of honey


Line the base of the cake tin with a piece of baking parchment. Set the oven at 180° C/350 F.

Cream the butter and sugar together till light and fluffy. You can do this by hand or in a mixer. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork, then stir into the mixture. Carefully grate the zest and then squeeze the juice from the orange. Add both the zest and the juice to the mixture. Mix the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder together, then fold into the mixture.

Crush the cardamom pods and extract the little black seeds, grinding them to a fine powder. Add the spice to the cake mixture.

Transfer the cake mixture to the lined tin and smooth the top level. Bake for 30 minutes, turn down the heat to 160 C for a further 25 minutes or until the cake is firm.

To make the syrup, squeeze the lemon and orange juice into a stainless steel saucepan, bring to the boil and dissolve in the honey. Keep the liquid boiling until it has formed a thin syrup (4-5 minutes).

Spike holes into the top of the cake (still warm and in its tin) with a skewer then spoon over the hot citrus syrup. Leave to cool, then lift out of the tin.

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