Blood Orange Polenta Cakes

by M Amatt


I absolutely adore blood oranges. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of their less gorey counterparts,  I will stalk the supermarket aisles in search of these, and have been known to elbow other customers at the market out the way to get my hands on some.

Maybe it’s the thrill of variety, each orange revealing a different colour inside, from barely blushing to almost arterial. Or perhaps it’s that some come in brightly coloured twists of paper (I am a sucker for pretty packaging). Whatever the reason, I often buy more than I, an admitted tolerator of fruit, can happily eat. In this instance, the glut met with some loitering polenta and, by way of the GoodFood cookbook, became a cake (of course).


Having made the cakes I decided I needed more of an citrus hit than they were giving me, so made an orange syrup and doused them in it.

Blood orange polenta cake

It paid off! Delectably sticky, these are paw-lickingly good (if I do say so myself).

Blood orange polenta cake

Blood Orange Polenta Cakes (adapted from this very good little book)

n.b. I made 24 little cakes (using a shallow bun tin), and baked them in two batches, but they would work just as well done in bigger tins; you may need to bake them for a little longer, though.

140g unsalted butter

140g caster sugar

75g polenta

Zest of 1/2 an orange

3 large eggs, beaten

140g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp milk

For the syrup

4 large blood oranges

3 level tbsp sugar

Cream the butter and the sugar until pale. Add the polenta and zest and mix, then stir in the eggs, a little at a time.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, then gently fold in, followed by the milk.

Spoon into a 12 hole cake tin lined with paper cases, and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before poking several holes in the top of each cake.

Now make the syrup. Juice the oranges and pour into a pan (add a splash of water if the oranges don’t yield much juice). Place over a low heat with the sugar, until it dissolves. Turn up the heat and let it bubble ferociously for a couple of minutes. It’s ready when it has thickened slightly – enough to coat the base of the saucepan if you tilt it. Pour over the cakes, allow them to cool (the hard part), then devour.