Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
With social media I've come to realize that there are so many St. Louis based food bloggers. The more I thought about how many of us were out there, the crazier it was that many of us had never met in person. Over the past few months I have reached out to a few and worked on collaborations, met up for coffee, and have even been to a few "blogger dinners". Those that I did meet and worked with agreed that it was odd that we could "know" one another on social media, but we had no community with these strangers outside of the blogosphere. Myself and these new friends wanted to meet up with more people who share a very similar passion in our city!
So my friend Alex and I decided to start a small group called the STL Cookbook Club. This club allows us to meet with each other once a month and make recipes from a favorite cookbook, favorite chef, or theme. This month is our first ever meeting and I was so excited to try something new.
The theme, as you can tell from the name of the recipe, was Ottolenghi. We were asked to make a dish from any of his famous cookbooks. Here’s the problem…I’m an idiot and really don’t know that much about the cooking/chef world. I watch Gordon Ramsey religiously because of the god he is and a few other “TV famous” chefs. I really have no clue what I’m doing when it comes to this stuff. Even locally I feel like I need to study up and know more. I’m just a food blogger that likes cooking and eating food. And because this is not my full time job, I usually don’t prioritize learning about chefs, certain techniques, etc. Maybe in the future I will try a little harder to know who is who, but for now I’ll just learn as I go.
So, I chose this orange polenta cake because, well the recipe was online and I don't have his books…see, failing again. Luckily it is delicious and perfect for springtime. Some items used to make this however, might be a little difficult to find. However, they are out there. For the quick cook polenta and orange blossom water I headed to Whole Foods, both are in the baking aisle! I had trouble finding caster sugar so I used normal granulated cane sugar and pulsed it for a minute in my food processor. Also, the flour is SUPPOSED to be almond flour, but alas my allergies keep me from using that. So I swapped that out for unbleached all-purpose flour.
I loved how the cake turned out, but I am always one to add a little something extra to a dish! You’ll notice in the original recipe it doesn’t have a whipped cream, but I just couldn’t resist.
If you try this cake out, be sure to post a pic to Instagram (or any social media) and tag #feedmewithamanda.
For the Cake
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs
2 teaspoon orange blossom water
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅔ cups quick cook polenta
½ teaspoon salt
For the Caramel Topping
For the Glaze
Butter an 8 inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Make sure that your parchment paper is longer than the sides to catch any syrup that may leak over (you will also want to put a catch tray under your pan in the oven.)
Prepare a small cup of water by the side of the stove with a pastry brush. Put the sugar and water for the caramel in a large pan. Make sure the sugar has been coated by the water. Bring the sugar to the boil (without stirring, but rotate pan if needed). If sugar has separated on the side of the pan use your wet pastry brush to brush down the sides of the pan making sure the sugar doesn’t crystalize.
Once your sugar is a nice golden color add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir until incorporated and turn off heat. The caramel should now be smooth and a golden brown.
Pour the caramel into the lined cake pan and quickly swirl it around the base so that it coats the entire bottom surface completely.
While that is cooling, zest 2 oranges and set aside. Cut off the top and bottom off of each orange and peel off the skin using a sharp knife following the natural circular shape of the orange. Be sure to remove as much of the skin, seeds and membrane as possible.
Cut the oranges into thin slices, removing more of the skin and membrane as well. Using your nicest pieces, lay slices on top of the caramel next to each other. Do not overlap them, but fill any holes with small orange pieces. Make sure you cover the whole surface.
Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Starting on your cake batter you will use a standing mixer to cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated. Stir in the orange zest and blossom water.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Slowly pour that mixture into the wet ingredients and mix until combined.
Place the batter into your cake tin (mine was so thick I used an ice cream scoop). Take care to not move the oranges much. Level the batter with an offset spatula or knife and place in the oven, over a catch tray. Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick come out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a platter or serving dish.
Combine the marmalade and water for the glaze in a saucepan and heat for 1-3 minutes. Sieve the glaze and brush on top of your cake.
If you wish to make the whipped cream, add the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk for 5 minutes by hand. Make sure the cream forms stiff peaks, but do not over whisk or you will create a butter (like mine).