Polenta is an inside joke with Simon and our friends. Don't ask why. Suffice it to say the very sight of a bag if polenta makes us laugh.
A week ago one friend texted me to say her boyfriend had seen a polenta cake on a tv cooking show and could I make it? Well, coincidentally, there is a recipe for an orange polenta cake in Ottolenghi, my new favourite bedtime read.
Polenta (cornmeal) is actually very difficult to find here. It isn't used at all in British cooking, and most people don't know what it is. Matters aren't helped by the fact that it has a foreign name and that the dry cornmeal and the cooked final product are called the same thing. Ottolenghi's recipe calls for quick-cook polenta, and claims that this is widely available in the UK. Lies!
We ordered instant polenta on amazon and ended up with this: bricks of pre-cooked polenta! You can't make a cake from that, just like you can't make oatmeal cookies from boiled oatmeal.
This then became my obsession. I have scoured the internet. It's incredibly frustrating to be asked to pay £5 shipping on a product worth less than £2. (The pre-cooked stuff had cheap shipping.) Then I found out a chain of Italian delis and restaurants, that had opened a branch near us, had a small food section and they sell quick-cook polenta! I texted Simon this picture from outside the shop.
Then I came home, sent Simon out for missing ingredients, made and ate pizza, had to go to the store myself for even more ground almonds, and made the polenta cake. I was tired and fed up by the time the cake was done and dishes were washed, but the smell coming from the oven was wonderful. It was like a day if sunshine, in cake form! And look at it:
Sorry for no recipe. I will undoubtedly be making this for the polenta-loving group of friends, and when I do, I will take more pictures, including the making of the caramel and preparation of the oranges, and I will probably even make the optional glaze and try to source some orange blossom water. But for now, good night!