“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,” says food writer Letitia Clark.
Read: Lemon Yoghurt Cake
“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
- 100g demerara sugar
For the batter:
- 200ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 200g caster sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 250g ricotta
- zest and juice of 4 small blood oranges
- juice and zest of 1 large lemon
- 4 eggs
- 100g polenta
- 150g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
First, prepare the base of the cake. Wash the oranges and slice them into 2mm 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 two 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.
Read: Oscar’s Orange Cake
Allow the cake to cool for five 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.
Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Hardie Grant. Available now.
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