upside down blood orange polenta cake

If you're thinking to yourself, haven't I seen something like this before on Jillian's blog, then you'd be right. Almost one year ago to the day I featured a version of this recipe on the blog. I'd always planned to make it again, I just had to wait for blood oranges to come back in season. Well as they're back in the shops, here is the 2015 version of Ottolenghi's Blood Orange Polenta Cake.


On Saturday when I went to the cupboard and opened the container holding the polenta flour, I found it filled with moths. I tossed the polenta flour in the bin and went to the shops to track down some quick cook polenta because that's what Ottolenghi used in the original recipe.

Making the cake the second time round, I learned a few things. Firstly blood oranges are much easier to cut when cold, so put them in the fridge for a few hours before slicing them. Secondly, the quick cook polenta makes the cake really moist but it does leave a slightly grainy texture. If that's not for you, then track down some polenta flour. Thirdly if you use a spring-form pan like I did, remember to put the tin on a tray while it's baking or you'll have burnt sugar syrup all over your oven. You'll need to soak the tin in hot water for a while once you remove the cake, to dissolve the baked on toffee.

Fourthly who knew the Donna Hay for Royal Doulton Cake stand was so fragile. Soon after taking this photo, I knocked the cake stand over and smashed it. That's why it suddenly disappears in the remaining photos!

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. This recipe makes a 17 cm cake so if you'd like to make a larger cake then refer to the 2014 recipe for quantities. Even though the cake recipe isn't gluten free, it has so little flour it would be easy to swap out the flour for a gluten free product.

Upside Down Blood Orange Polenta Cake 2015, adapted from Ottolenghi the Cookbook.

Caramel topping
65g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
1 tbs water
15g unsalted butter, diced
3 small blood oranges, store in the fridge overnight

Cake Ingredients
25g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 tbs grated blood orange rind
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
120g (1 cup firmly packed) ground almonds
60g quick-cook polenta
¼ cup orange juice (optional)

2 tbs orange marmalade
2 tsp water

1. Lightly grease a 17 cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. If using a loose-based tin, make sure the paper circle you cut for the base is large enough to go some way up the sides as well, to prevent leaking.

2. Grate the zest of 2 of the oranges and set 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 but neatly follow the natural curves of the orange with the knife to peel off the remaining skin and all the white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices. Remove the pips and place the slices on a large plate until ready to use.

3. To make the caramel, put the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir gently to wet the sugar through and then place on a low-medium heat. Slowly bring the sugar to the boil. As soon as the toffee reaches a nice golden colour remove the pan from the heat. With your face at a safe distance, add the chunks of butter. Gently wiggle the pan a few times until the butter melts, then pour the caramel over the lined base of the cake tin. Carefully but quickly (so it doesn't set) tilt it to spread evenly. Lay out the orange slices tightly over the caramel.

4. Heat the oven to 190°C. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with the reserved orange zest and the vanilla. Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture. Gradually add the eggs. Next add the almonds, polenta and sifted dry ingredients until just combined. If the cake batter is a little thick you may need to add some orange juice. I added ¼ cup blood orange juice. 

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single neat layer. Level the mixture carefully with a palette knife. Place the cake in the oven and place on an oven tray to catch any drips. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

7. While the cake is still hot, place a cardboard disc or a flat plate on top. Briskly turn over and then remove the tin and the lining paper. Don't leave the cake in the tin for too long or the sugar syrup will set and you may have real problems extracting the cake from the tin. Leave the cake to cool completely. 

8. For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass through a sieve. While the glaze is still hot, lightly brush the top of the cake with it.

This recipe makes an exceedingly moist, deeply orange flavoured cake which develops it's flavour the longer you keep it. If you store the cake for a few days you'll need to re-glaze the cake before serving.

Next week I promise will be completely blood orange free, even though I still have 5 blood oranges lurking in my crisper. 

See you all again next week with something you've not seen on the blog for a while, a shop shoot.

Bye for now,



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