I wouldn’t say that I am bloodthirsty. Sure, I like my steak rare, and I can deal with the sight of blood. But sometimes I get upset when I don’t see any, in my blood oranges at least. I was slicing through a batch yesterday, perpetually disappointed to see only occasionally blushes and not enough rushing red. So annoyed was I that I accidentally cut through my own finger in my rush, and yes, there was blood, but not the kind of blood that I was hoping for.
I was on a mission. I love Italian polenta and almond cakes. I had a slice for the first time in Gelupo in London not long after it first opened and it stopped me in my tracks. Literally, I was eating it on the run (it was that kind of day), and I stopped and looked at that simple cake and thought about what a surprise it was. So understated to look at, but bursting with flavour beneath. My kind of flavours, not too sweet and a little crumbly. This is a perfect breakfast cake. It made the cut in my first book as a kind of a muffin. Italians love to have cake for breakfast and they do everything else right so why not?! I have embraced it.
Last week, I spotted a gorgeous version that Kellie from Food to Glow had cooked, an upside down blood orange polenta cake. It got me thinking. I still had wonderful IGP hazelnuts from my last trip to Piedmont that I needed to use. I had a wonderful coarse bright yellow polenta that I had bought in an Italian deli in town. And I had some blood oranges.
This cake is dairy free and gluten free too. Sometimes I mix in some plain flour too to make it a little softer but it isn’t essential and the stoneground polenta I used gave it a brilliant flavour and a coarsely textured crumb which worked very well. Each way is very palatable, go with flour if you fancy something a little less coarse and a bit cake-ier (substitute 75g plain flour for 50g polenta).
Enjoy, and embrace cake for breakfast. It is a beautiful thing!
Orange & Hazelnut Cake
- 150ml rapeseed or olive oil
- 125g soft brown sugar
- 150g polenta or cornmeal
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 175g ground hazelnuts (I ground whole ones in my food processor)
- 3 large eggs
- 3 oranges - the rind and juice of 2 for the cake, the remaining sliced with the rind & pith removed
- juice of half a lemon
- one cake tin approx 20cm or 7/8 inches
- greaseproof paper / baking parchment