Thursday, 24 December 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas, And My House Smelt of Orange Polenta Cake

It has been snowing like you would not believe in the past five days.  I've never seen snow this early - it usually comes at the end of January for a couple of weeks, and its just beautiful to look out on the garden which is as white as white as can be.  

Horse care has been more of a challenge - trying to convince a healthy, raring to go half-ton horse that he needs to stay in his stable for the duration for his own safety is not at all easy...he's been out in the field in the snow a little but our livery-yard owners have decided its too dangerous to put horses out because of the ice that follows the snow for the moment, so we are all confined to out stables (well, ok - the horses are - the owners can come and go as they please I guess) - I've been taking Merlin for walks, letting him run and roll in the indoor riding school and today I gave him a massage.  I wouldn't mind someone do all that for me!  He seems to be ok, and hopefully the snow and ice won't last too long.
We've put delicate white lights in the tree outside the front of the house, and with the snow it looks magical at night-time - I couldn't resist taking a peep at it a few nights ago but instantly regretted it when the cold near enough froze me to the floor when I opened my front door in my pyjamas.  Luckily it was 2 am so none of my neighbours were frightened in the process.

Despite not being a Christmas fan at all, I've wrapped my gifts and decorated the tree which looks pretty this year - I came home this evening, made the customary time-consuming pre-Christmas dinner of baked potato, baked beans and cheese (!) and then set to making a cake - I always enjoy doing this and the whole house smells deliciously of baking and oranges - the only reason I don't do more baking is that unfortunately I end up eating the stuff - anyway - here's my Polenta, Orange and Almond Cake Recipe for anyone who would like to try it - AND its fat free...make one, eat the lot - no guilt - just what we need at Christmas - a guilt free treat!!

Polenta, Orange and Almond Cake Recipe

2 very large juicy yummy oranges
6 large free range eggs
150 g Polenta
2 Large Spoonfuls Honey
350g Caster Sugar (I couldn't find any caster sugar in the cupboard so I just used normal golden granulated sugar)
150g Ground Almonds
Vanilla Essence
Orange Flower Water (if you have it)
Orange Juice


Oven set to 200 Degrees

Cut oranges into halves and quarters.  Reserve one half for later on.   Tidy/trim and scrub oranges (to get the wax off).

Put oranges into large pan with boiling water and a spoonful of honey, cook for approx 40-50 minues until soft.  Allow to cool.

Grease and line a 23cm baking tin.

Liquidise the cooled, cooked oranges with a food processor or blender (I just used my hand blender) and add polenta, ground almonds, 250g of the sugar, vanilla essence and the eggs - mix everything together so there are no lumps - this should not take long.  

Put the mixture into the baking tin, smooth off the top and bake for 45-60 minutes - it won't rise very much (no baking powder, flour or fat remember) so this makes for a fairly dense cake.   If your oven is fan-assisted check at about 40 minutes.

Test that your cake is thoroughly cooked by ensuring a skewer comes out clean - once it has,  cool the cake.

Make a syrup for the top of the cake:

Carefully peel the rind from the remaining half an orange then slice into marmalade-type strips; place in a small pan.

Add a couple of drops of vanilla essence, the remaining 100g of caster sugar, the juice of the half orange, orange flower water (if you have it), a spoonful of honey, 50ml orange juice, 50ml water and place over a low heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the heat up higher, and stirring constantly, cook the syrup for approx. 3-5 minutes until it thickens and turns a deeper orange.  Take off the heat and cool.

Spoon the syrup with the orange strips over the top of the cake.  

Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice-cream or cold with whipped cream and Grand Marnier.

Will keep beautifully for a few days in an airtight container.  Gets better and more moist over a few days.

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