Little did I know when I wrote this recipe that polenta and citrus cakes are all the rage in coffee shops around the country. Well, the heart wants what the heart wants, and seemingly many hearts want this. It’s not hard to see why: polenta, or ground corn, makes for a deliciously dense cake, which is here topped and shot through with a sharp, brightly flavoured, ruby-coloured syrup made with blood orange. Those oranges aren’t around for long, so don’t dilly-dally.
Blood orange and polenta cakes
Eggs are hard to replace in cakes, but flax seeds do a decent job. They don’t bind quite as well, however, so be prepared to test your reflexes catching crumbs. You’ll need muffin cases and a muffin tin.
Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
½ tsp apple cider vinegar
120ml almond milk, plus 3 tbsp extra
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
3 blood oranges
100g plain flour
100g quick-cook polenta
140g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch salt
50ml rapeseed oil
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases.
In a mug, combine the vinegar and 120ml almond milk. Put the flax seeds in a small bowl, add the three tablespoons of almond milk and mix.
Zest two of the oranges into a bowl. Add the flour, polenta, 100g of the caster sugar, the baking powder, bicarb and salt, and whisk. Add the rapeseed oil and mix again, then add the flax seeds and vinegary milk, and whisk to combine.
Spoon a generous tablespoon or two of the dough into each muffin case. Peel the two zested oranges and, with your sharpest knife, cut off 10 thin slices. Lay one on top of each muffin, then bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
In the meantime, make the syrup. Juice the remaining orange into a small pan (you should get around 60-80ml), add the remaining 40g caster sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a whisper and cook for two minutes, until the mix turns sticky and syrupy, then take off the heat.
While they’re still hot and in their tin, prick the cooked muffins all over with a skewer, brush or spoon the syrup over and leave to cool before eating.