blood orange almond polenta and semolina cake

Blood oranges are back in season. I just love blood oranges and I'm always looking for new recipes incorporating them.

Some time ago I made Claudia Roden's classic flourless orange and almond cake recipe but 
I found the cake quite bitter. I then found this Philip Johnson recipe for a crushed almond and orange cake and have been meaning to make it ever since. Philip Johnson runs e'cco bistro in Brisbane and e'cco was my family's go to restaurant for special occasions. 

I used Philip's recipe as a starting point and took it from there. The ground almonds and flour in the original recipe morphed into almonds, semolina and fine polenta inspired by an Ottolenghi recipe.

I kept my fingers crossed that the recipe would work out. Once the cake cooled, I dredged it with icing sugar then served it with some blood orange segments and double cream.

The cake was nice and moist with a slightly grainy texture from the semolina and an intense orange flavour without any bitterness. I'm sure you could use mandarins or tangelos instead of blood oranges and next time I make this cake I think I'll use lemons.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes an 18cm cake. 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. If you'd like to make a bigger version, double all the ingredients to make a 23cm cake. The baking time will remain the same.

Blood orange, almond, polenta and semolina cake 

1 blood orange 
125g unsalted butter, room temperature 
125g caster sugar 
3 eggs 
¾ tsp baking powder 
tbs (scant ¼ cup) fine polenta or maize flour 
⅓ cup (60g) fine semolina 
⅔ cup (60g) ground almonds 

To serve 
Icing sugar 
Blood orange segments 
Double cream 

Put the orange in a saucepan then cover with water. Place a plate over the orange to keep it submerged then boil until soft, about 2 hours. Drain and cool, then quarter the orange, removing any seeds you come across. Pulse the orange in a food processor until finely chopped. Measure out 125mls of the orange pulp and freeze any leftover pulp for another time. 

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 18cm round spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the baking powder with the maize flour and semolina, then stir in the almond meal. Add to the butter, mixing in 3 additions, alternating with the orange pulp. 

Pour into the prepared tin and bake at 180°C for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake on a cooling rack before inverting and removing the baking paper. Just before serving dust with icing sugar. Serve with blood orange segments and some thick cream. 

I hope you get to try the recipe soon. Meanwhile, I'll be back again later in the week with my final post from Namibia.

See you all again soon,

Bye for now,


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