What's That Smell?!
Orange Blossom & Rosemary Polenta Cake with Thyme & Orange Syrup
Sunday bake time and we've made this incredible herb scented Orange Blossom and Polenta cake from the wonderful Nadiya Hussain and her new series, Nadiya's British Food Adventure. It's easy to see why this humble girl from Luton has captured the hearts and minds of bakers and cooks everywhere, with here easy going inclusive attitude and seriously tasty recipes. Plus, any girl with such an unabashed passion for cheddar, is always going to make their way in the the Gents hearts!
Now, this cake asks for a couple of semi-specialist ingredients, but you can get by with supermarket staples. Firstly there's the orange blossom water. It's a tricky one to find but we swapped it out for orange extract with good results. Secondly is the pistachio oil. This is definitely a specialist purchase, however, the suggested substitute of walnut oil is easily available and will make winter salads sing. Finally it's the pistachio nibs. These perfectly green nutty shards adorn many a high-end bake but, you'll struggle to find these on the high-street. Regular unsalted, shelled pistachios are just fine and their delicate greens and pinks are just as pretty.
Start by doing a little prep, chopping your rosemary, zesting your mandarins and weighing out your ingredients. It's a relatively simple recipe but, getting your 'ducks in a row' before hand makes light work of the assembly. With the oven on and your cake tin prepped (greased and lined), it's time to get mixing.
Whisk your oil and caster sugar to a smooth sludge before adding your almonds and eggs in stages. The mixture is surprisingly viscous, but persevere. Add your chopped rosemary, mandarin zest and orange blossom water (or orange extract) and mix well. Finally, fold in your polenta and transfer the mix to your tin. Level with a knife and pop in to bake at 160 fan for 30 mins and a further 20 minutes at 140.
Whilst your cake bakes, warm mandarin juice, orange blossom honey and several sprigs of thyme in a pan. The aroma is spectacular. When your cake is done, pierce it all over and spoon over your syrup. Whilst Nadiya suggests warm syrup and a still warm cake, the Gents have always been taught that it's cool syrup, hot cake or hot syrup, cold cake, to maximise the uptake of the syrup. There's probably a sciency explanation but, whatever the reason, it works.
Finally, once cooled, make up your icing. Mix walnut oil (or pistachio if you can get it) with icing sugar. Spoon the icing on the top of your cake and finish with a sprinkling of pistachios before helping yourself to a very large slice! Enjoy...