Monday 20 May 2024

Spring into action and bake!

Orange Polenta Cake

There’s something about May which makes me want to bake – maybe it’s because the Bank Holidays are occasions for friends and families to get together - often in rainy weather as the early May Day one just gone - so baking a pudding or cake seems the natural thing to do? But did you know that the month of May is brimming with a flotilla of food related days such as ‘Eat what you want day’ on 11 May, whether you stick to healthy eating or not, as well as Europe Day on 9 May and European Neighbours’ Day on 27 May which are good reasons to indulge in such delights as Pastéis de nata, Madeleines or a slice of Gateau Basque.

What’s all this about World Baking Day …?

But wait … I’ve discovered that there’s a World Baking Day to add to these foodie days in May, which is celebrated on the third Sunday in May. 

 I’m going to try something I've never done before and bake a Polenta Cake. Valerie, a friend of mine is having her Diamond Wedding celebrations later in the year and she asked me to bake a cake for the occasion.  But since my friend is gluten intolerant, she has asked me to bake a Polenta Cake, which is a first for me. I want to try it out a few times to make sure it will going to be near perfect for their family event.

Orange Polenta Cake

What you need

140g ground almonds

100g polenta

1 tsp baking powder

4 eggs (separated)

170ml rapeseed oil

170g golden caster sugar

Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon

For the syrup

150ml orange juice

55g caster sugar

How to bake

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) and grease a cake tin (20 cm x 8 cm). Mix together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat together the egg yolks, oil, 150g of the golden caster sugar and the grated zests of the orange and lemon. Fold in the dry ingredients gently. In another bowl, whisk the egg white and remaining golden caster sugar until there are stiff peaks. Then add this to the cake mixture in batches. Try not to stir too much so you keep the air in the mixture. Pour it all into the cake tin and bake in the oven for around 30-35 minutes until the cake is firm or a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin and make the syrup.

Add the orange juice and caster sugar to a small saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Bring to the boil for 1 minute or so. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Pierce the cake all over with a skewer and then drizzle the syrup over the cake. Leave to cool for another 10 minutes or so before turning the cake out of the tin and allow to cool.

Valerie says she often used to make a decoration of mascarpone, icing sugar and whipped cream to spread on the top but she says that sifted icing sugar on the top is sufficient to make this cake a stunning centrepiece for any occasion. The choice is yours!

I was very pleased with this first attempt which had the thumbs up all round. Why not check out your local market to buy your ingredients. It’s Love Your Local Market week from 17 May to 1 June which is about encouraging everyone to support their local market and community. Whatever you bake and whoever you bake for, enjoy World Baking Day and spring into action – it’s going to be an annual event on my calendar!