My olive oil experiment moved into a new phase today - after trying the Cardamom infused olive oil on roast pork and the Bergamot-infused oil in Focaccia, both of which were resounding successes, I decided to tackle a sweet recipe. This rather impressive-looking Upside Down Orange Polenta & Olive Oil Cake was the result.
Upside Down Orange Polenta & Olive Oil Cake
5 large oranges
250g fine-ground polenta
200g self-raising flour
1½ tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
4 eggs, beaten
225ml extra-virgin olive oil (I used 55ml Marina Colonna Arancio orange-flavoured olive oil + 170ml extra-virgin olive oil)
Put two of the oranges into a pan of water and simmer for one hour until completely soft.
Drain then blend to a smooth purée with a stick blender or in a food processor.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/ Gas 3. Remove the peel and pith from the remaining oranges and chop them into 1cm-thick slices. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin. Scatter a couple of tablespoons of the sugar over the bottom of the tin in an even layer and arrange the slices of orange on top.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat in the eggs.
Pour in the oil - don't worry, it will look like you've added way too much but it will be fine !
Stir in the orange purée, making sure everything is well mixed. You may want to have a tiny taste at this stage and add a bit more sugar if it's too sharp.
Pour the batter over the oranges, then place in the middle of the oven for 75-90 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. (I put a piece of foil over the top for the last 30 minutes because it was going a bit too brown.)
Allow to cool in the tin before inverting on to a plate and serving.
This was the first time that I'd used polenta in cooking and it gave a nice firmer texture to the cake. Using the whole oranges, peel and all, gives it a slightly bitter orange flavour. I'd be tempted to add a bit more sugar next time to balance this. It's a great looking cake though and one that I'd definitely make again. Using olive oil instead of butter has to be better for your health too.
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