Orange polenta cake with olive oil

This is truly a seasonal recipe for December when in Sicily the almonds are harvested not long before, and the oranges are ripening on the tree. The olive oil replaces the butter in this recipe, while polenta gives this cake that extra Italian touch. A real showstopper!


  • 1 large whole seedless orange
  • ½ lemon , juiced and zested
  • 225ml olive oil , plus extra for the tin
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 120g polenta
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • icing sugar


  1. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Lower the orange in and cover with a lid, leaving a gap so that a little steam can still escape. Boil gently for 30 mins, then remove from the water and allow to cool slightly. Quarter the orange and remove any pips, then transfer to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice and zest and blitz to a smooth purée.
  2. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Oil the sides of a 23cm round cake tin and line the bottom of the tin with baking parchment.
  3. Sieve the almonds, polenta, baking powder and ½ tsp salt into a large bowl and mix together thoroughly. Whisk the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until really pale and fluffy, about 4 mins. With the mixer still whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream so that the mixture doesn’t split. Once incorporated, scrape in the orange purée and whisk to combine, then add the dry ingredients, combining until you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 55 mins to 1 hr 5 mins until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  4. Cool in the tin on a wire rack to cool, Once cooled dust with some icing sugar.


  • The outside of this cake gets dark quite quickly. We advise you to check after 40 minutes. If you see that the top of the cake is dark, cover it with aluminium foil (until the end of the baking time). The cake will not discolour any further, but continue cooking.
  • An easy way to check if your cake is cooked is to use a clean skewer in the middle of the cake. The cake is cooked when the skewer comes out clean.
  • You can keep the orange polenta cake for a few days if you keep it airtight. The olive oil and orange will make the cake even more moist.


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