Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Random Recipes & a poncy ingredient alert - Ottolenghi's Orange Polenta Cake

I was wondering how I was going to fit a Random Recipe in this month, but the blog challenge fairies were obviously smiling on me.

Dom's challenge from Belleau Kitchen this month was to get all those cut out snippets of recipe, those torn out pages, and clippings, throw them up in the air - or spread them out, or do something with them to enable you to randomly select one.



I thought I'd give it a go and see what it came up with. No obligation to complete the challenge if I couldn't fit it in or the recipe was one of the more obscure I'd cut out and kept. But as I say, no need to worry. The selection process turned up Yottam Ottolenghi's Orange Polenta Cake which I'd copied at Christmas from my brother's newly received copy of the Ottolenghi cook book. Fortuitous indeed because we had people coming for dinner, and there had to be dessert. Not that this is a hardship, you understand, but I'd already planned a moorish style chicken & chorizo casserole for the main course, so this fitted perfectly. Caramelised oranges, almonds, some orange blossom water (this is an Ottolenghi recipe after all - poncy ingredients are to be expected!).

First up, though, the challenge of sourcing the ingredients. I know there used to be a bag of polenta in the cupboard, but I must have used it up, because when I looked again, there was nothing. I couldn't get it in my online shop so sent the Husband off to do his hunter gatherer thing. The poor man went to 4 different supermarkets on 2 separate trips after work - he even went and worked at a different office on Friday in order to try different supermarkets, before ending up in Waitrose in Andover. Where, of course, they had at least 2 varieties. Anyway, he came home triumphant with an impressively artisan looking bag, plus some tahini paste and some unsalted pistachios which I also required.



While I've learned my lesson over the years that when people are coming for dinner it's wise to stick to the familiar and easy, there's always a certain amount of frisson to be gained cooking something with a little bit of fiddle factor when you have no idea how it's going to turn out and 10 people expecting to be fed. I have limited experience cooking Ottolenghi, and while it's always turned out brilliantly, I'm not in the same comfort zone with his stuff that I am cooking, say, Nigella. Add to this the opportunity for third degree burns that making caramel presents, and perhaps I should have stuck to something tried and tested, but I like a challenge.

 


The recipe was at least helpful in that it pointed out the need to thoroughly line the tin (if you're using springform, which I was) in order to prevent caramel leaking all over your oven, and as an extra precaution, I also put the cake tin on a baking sheet. A wise precaution as it turns out because even with what I thought was thorough tin lining, I did have a little bit of caramel leakage. But nothing serious.









Anyway, the recipe. I couldn't find it online to link to, but it's in the Ottolenghi cook book. Having lined your tin, you make some caramel which you use to cover the bottom of the tin.




 Next, there are oranges to zest and peel, and place on top of the caramel layer, 





before making a deliciously orangey scented batter using eggs, ground almonds, polenta along with the usual butter and eggs. The recipe also calls for orange blossom water, I forgot to put this on the Husband's foraging list, and having put him through supermarket hell in search of polenta, I didn't have the heart to fess up to needing orange blossom water, so in the end I just squeezed in a little extra orange juice. I think the random recipe rules state that you have to cook the recipe as it is, with little deviation. Well, I'm afraid that as well as missing the orange blossom water, I upped the recipe by a third to make a big enough cake to feed all of us. I hope I'm not disqualified.

 As a result of the increase in ingredients, it took quite a bit longer than the stated 40-45 minutes to bake, and I ended up covering the tin with foil to stop the top of the cake catching, but it all turned out fine. Once baked, the final nerve-wracking turnout passed without a hitch.

Ta daah!


13 comments:

  1. It looks absolutely delicious.
    I'm not sure I would have tackled it myself - a bit too fiddly, so congratulations !!

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    1. Hmm it was a bit of a fiddle - the caramel and also slicing the oranges - I don't think I got them thin enough really, but it was mighty good cake!

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  2. Ooh, an orange upside down cake. It looks fab and I'm sure it was worth all that extra foraging. I've only been participating in Random Recipes since it's inception and I had no idea about the sticking rigidly to the recipe rule - maybe I just blanked it out because I am incapable of doing it.

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    1. It was gorgeous. I had the last slice of it at lunchtime today - orangey almondy - just gorgeous. May be I misread the rule...

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  3. Lucky guests! Looks gorgeous.
    Really impressed by your husband's determined search for polenta! Mine is living in Andover during the week so I'll know where to send him ;)

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    1. Andover is so close! If you ever come down, let me know

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  4. such a stunning cake... not only does it look good but the recipe, of which I also have a copy, is amazing, so I know how good this tastes... thank you so much for the entry, always such a pleasure x

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    1. It did taste wonderful - but all Ottolenghi's stuff does, I think - I love his food. Have you eaten at any of his restaurants? I think it's at the top of my list. Must hint harder!

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  5. I've made quite a few of Mr O's recipes over the last few years but I've not tried this one. It looks lovely. Being 5 minutes walk away from a Waitrose was one of the reasons for choosing to move to my current house. That's probably admitting too much.

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    1. Probably - but then my brother & his wife did exactly the same...I've been banned from ever actually going to a Waitrose because what ever I go for, it always costs me at least £30

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  6. I'm a quite new but quite enthusiastic fan of Ottolenghi's, I do love reading the ingredient list for his recipes which can seem quite normal until you get to the inevitable poncy ingredient (crushed allspice berries in an otherwise average chickpea salad was a recent favourite). This looks absolutely stunning with the caramel oranges on the top. Nice work.

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