Orange Polenta Cake

I tried out a whole range of orange cakes recently, some less and some more successful, some complete failures. My quest was for a specific consistency found in some outside cakes which, I have to admit, I did not achieve to imitate at home. However, I certainly did end up with some very delicious cakes, a broadened repertoire and enough encouragement and pleasing results which made up for the failures.

This recipe is the last one that I tried out and it turned out to be the most convincing. It makes a deliciously fragrant cake with a crumbly crust and a particularly beautiful crumb to which the polenta adds a nice crunchiness.

The cake is not very sweet itself, but you have all the options from glazing or even drenching it in syrup or coating it with icing or even both if you like it sweeter. It keeps well but is best when very fresh.


Ingredients (for 1 small bundt mold):

  • 3 oranges (organic)
  • 75 grams of granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 90 grams of icing sugar
  • 225 grams of cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 50 grams of cornmeal (polenta)
  • 75 ml of (mild-tasting) olive oil
  • 1 shot of orange liqueur, e.g. Rosolio di Arancia or Villa Massa Liquore di Arance
  • For decoration (optional): 1 egg white, 200 grams of icing sugar, 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water


  1. Zest the oranges. Set the zest aside.
  2. Juice 1 of the oranges. Pour the juice into a saucepan.
  3. Fillet the remaining 2 oranges. Set the fillets aside and press out the leftovers adding to the juice in the saucepan.
  4. Bring the orange juice to the boil with the granulated sugar. Let simmer for approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Take off the heat and add the orange fillets to the syrup once it stops boiling. Let cool down.
  6. Separate the syrup and the orange fillets by passing the mixture through a sieve. Let the fillets drip off and set aside. Set aside the syrup as well.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and the icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  8. Gradually, fold in the flour, baking powder, cornmeal, salt, oil, orange liqueur and orange zest until combined.
  9. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
  10. Butter a bundt mold and dust with cornflour or semola.
  11. Fill approximately 1/3 of the batter into the cake mold and spread evenly. Place 1/2 of the orange fillets on top of the batter. Cover with another 1/3 of the batter. Place the remaining orange fillets on top. Cover with the rest of the batter.
  12. Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool down completely.
  13. Optionally, decorate with icing. Beat the egg white for a few seconds until foamy, then gradually, add the sugar. Add orange blossom water (careful: do not add too much or the icing becomes too thin). Place the cake on a grate over a sheet of aluminium foil and slowly pour the icing over the cake. You can re-use the icing that you catch on the aluminium foil and repeat the previous step several times until the cake is fully covered with icing and nearly no icing drips off any more. Let air-dry for several hours before serving.
  14. Alternatively, glaze with the syrup and serve immediately, or serve pure with the syrup on the side. Optionally, add another shot of orange liqueur to the syrup before serving.
  15. Best when very fresh!

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