Blood Orange, Ricotta, Polenta and Olive Oil Cake
A perfect cake, this is simultaneously fluffy, rich and light
The polenta gives it a lovely crunchiness at the edges. It will stay soft and sticky for days, though it is unlikely it will last that long – it is especially delicious for breakfast with an espresso. Blood oranges look the most striking with their scarlet flesh, but normal oranges will work just as well. A final note: this batter will look very runny when it is made, but do not be alarmed. It is all exactly as you planned...
- For the base:
- 1–2 blood oranges
- 100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) demerara sugar
- For the batter:
- 200 ml (6¾ fl oz/¾ cup) olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 250 g (8¾ oz) ricotta
- zest and juice of 4 small blood oranges
- juice and zest of 1 large lemon
- 4 eggs
- 100 g (3½ oz/2/3 cup) polenta
- 150 g (5¼ oz/1¼ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas 4). Grease and line a 20 cm (8 in) cake tin.
- First, prepare the base of the cake. Wash the oranges and slice them into 2 mm discs with a very sharp knife (you can use a mandoline or a slicer if you have them). I leave the rind on, as when cooked like this it becomes edible, but if you prefer you can remove it.
- In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the demerara sugar with 2 tablespoons water until it has dissolved. Simmer for a few minutes until the syrup begins to caramelise (you should smell and see the colour change to a light amber). Pour your syrup over the bottom of the cake tin. Arrange the slices of blood orange, as many as will fit in one layer in a pleasing pattern, on top of the syrup.
- To make the batter, whisk the oil, sugar, salt, ricotta, citrus juice and zest together in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40–50 minutes, until golden and just set.
- Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the tin and invert onto a wire rack or serving plate. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Recipe from Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark (Hardie Grant, Hardback & eBook). Photography ©Matt Russell