Gluten Free Orange, Almond and Polenta Cake

From the five orange and almond cake recipes, this is the easiest one to make. Partial substitution of almond meal in the recipe with polenta, makes the cake lighter, drier and structurally more resistant. Even if your orange puree is too wet, you will never end up with the wet cake with the sinking centre. Polenta absorbs any extra moisture, but still allows the cake to stay moist. This cake has reduced fat content and is lighter in calories because of reduction in almond meal quantity in the recipe.

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Ingredients: for 20 cm square cake (slice)

To make thicker slice in the same size tin you can double quantities of all ingredients. The batter will fit the same cake tin and the cake will have twice the thickness .

  • 200g cooked orange puree
  • 70g quick or instant polenta
  • 100g almond meal, sifted
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • vanilla bean extract optional
  • unsalted butter for cake pan
  • icing sugar to dust the cake

Preparation:

  • wash an orange, cover it with water in deep sauce pan and cook for 1 hour from boiling point on medium heat
  • cut orange in quarters, let them cool, discard seeds and  make orange puree using food processor or stick blender
  • butter square baking pan
  • use part of granulated sugar measured for the cake to dust baking pan
  • beat eggs with sugar on high speed until at least double the volume and pale (best results are achieved using benchtop mixer)
  • add orange puree and just mix it in on lower speed until fully incorporated, do not overmix
  • sift almond meal
  • add almond meal and polenta to wet ingredients and carefully mix it in by hand using spatula
  • pour the batter into baking pan
  • level cake batter by gently shaking the pan
  • bake in preheated to 160-165 degrees C fan forced oven for 45-50min. (I bake all my orange and almond cakes placing baking pan into cold fan forced oven set to 170 degrees C for 50-55min. I have found that this process allows the cake to rise and cook evenly and provides the formation of the best crust)
  • rest the cake on a wire rack until it cools down
  • dust the cake with gluten free icing sugar

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This cake is very easily separated from the pan, because the pan is not only buttered, but covered with granulated sugar on top of butter. This provides the formation of thick crust which prevents the cake sticking to the pan. It is not necessary to keep the cake in the pan to rest to get it out. Sometimes I even put the cake on a wire rack back to the switched off oven to dry any extra moisture from the crust. Don’t be afraid that it might make the cake dry. The cake itself will stay moist for 3-4 days without refrigeration.

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Polenta makes orange and almond cake the easiest cake to make and bake. Well beaten eggs provide raising power of the batter that does not need baking powder. Polenta cake of any shape or size will always have flat surface and you will avoid cake centre sinking, that usually happens with majority of orange and almond cakes if not baked very carefully with special precautions. The texture of the cake, compared to other orange and almond cakes is very sound. I usually make this cake for picnics and other takeaway occasions. These slices will never break and keep their shape indefinitely. They are also less crumbly.

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I like to serve this cake with strawberries and vanilla cream, topped with candied orange peel or whole almonds.

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Vanilla cream compliments the airy texture of this cake, the lightest and driest of all orange and almond cakes. It can be served with natural yogurt and sauce from fresh or frozen berries.

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