Orange polenta cake for Immy

So, an orange polenta cake is a thing I've been meaning to have a go at for a really long time. I was dithering over it yesterday and then I received a Tweet from a reader, Immy, who needed some inspiration for a tea party this weekend. And there's nothing like a reader in distress to get me going.

This works really well and it's very easy. But unfortunately, it's not as wheat-free as it sounds as it still contains 200g of flour. There are flourless and wheat-free cakes you can do but I find that they're often very dense and more puddingy than tea time-y.

(Having said that, Immy, you could do a flourless chocolate cake topped with cream and fruit, a la Sophie Dahl)

But if you're not really that bothered about the flour, this really is an excellent cake. It's jammy and delicious with a surprisingly subtle flavour and doesn't dry out. And doesn't have the bilious after-taste of a lemon cake. There looks like a staggering amount of sugar in this but the end product is not too sweet at all.

One word of warning though: this makes a HUGE cake. Enough for 15 people, easily.

It's made using a 23cm diameter cake tin, that's about 7cm deep. Cake tins are normally about 23cm, but they are sometimes shallower than 7cm. I can never, ever be bothered to measure tins but in this instance it's worth making sure you've got a big enough tin - alternatively you could halve the quantities.

Orange polenta cake

250g butter
250g sugar
4 eggs
140g polenta OR substitute semolina, doesn't really make a difference
200g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
zest and juice 2 oranges

100g sugar
100ml orange juice

1 Zest and squeeze your oranges. Roughly chop the zest. Measure off 100ml of the juice and set aside for the glaze.

2 Set the oven to 140C for fan ovens and 160C normal ovens. Grease your cake tin and - if you feel like it, line with baking parchment. I rarely bother, but then I almost ALWAYS get cake stuck to the sides. So if you can be arsed then do it - if not it won't be a disaster, but don't say I didn't warn you.

3 Cream together the butter and sugar. Yawn... why is this task so tedious?

4 Add each of the four eggs, one at a time. They may start to curdle towards the end of adding the last egg. Just ignore it.

5 Add your dry ingredients and mix. Then add the zest and your half-quantity orange juice and mix. Pour it all into cake tin and shove in the oven for 1hr 10mins. Yes, I know, seems a long time. But that's how long it takes.

6 Take cake out of oven and leave to cool. When it's sort of tepid, sling together the remaining juice and sugar and bring to the boil - then simmer for 5 minutes. Once this has cooled down to lukewarm, prick all over your cake with a fork or a skewer and pour over. It'll probably go everywhere so don't worry - just get as much down the holes as you can and spread it around and it'll sink in eventually. But I would wipe up any sugar-juice combo quickly because it will basically set and glue itself to your work surface otherwise.

Nice on its own, or with creme fraiche.

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