Polenta Cake with Clove and Orange Caramel
Dark and exotic, this cake evokes memories of the Caribbean islands, where fruits abound. The bitterness of the orange and the sweetness of the caramel melt together with the pungent muskiness of the cloves. Although the amount of cloves used in this recipe might seem high, I am always surprised by the volume of spices that can go into cakes. The sugar, almonds and polenta just seem to absorb their flavour.
|5||oranges: 2 peeled and thinly sliced, 2 chopped, and 1 juiced|
|120g (4½ oz)||butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing tin|
|1 level tbsp||ground cloves|
|1 tsp||baking powder|
|30g (1¼oz)||plain flour, sifted|
|120g (4½oz)||ground almonds|
|crème fraîche or yoghurt|
You will need a 20cm (8in) round cake tin and a blender.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake tin and line with baking paper. Lay the orange slices over the base of the tin.
Place the chopped oranges in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Cook for 20 minutes, then drain. Transfer to a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend until almost smooth.
In a bowl, cream the butter and 180g (6¼ oz) of the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, combining well between each addition. Mix in the blended oranges, then fold in two-thirds of the ground cloves, followed by the baking powder, flour, polenta and ground almonds. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in its tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.
To make the clove and orange caramel, heat the rest of the sugar and the orange juice in a heavy-based pan, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has thickened. When it turns golden brown, immediately take it off the heat and stir in the remaining ground cloves. Add a splash of water if the caramel is too thick to drizzle - it should be the consistency of honey. Drizzle the syrup all over the cake and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche or yoghurt.