Susan Jane White: Orange, Cardamom & Polenta Cake

Susan Jane White Orange Cardamom Cake

Susan Jane White Orange Cardamom Cake
Continuing our series of recipes from Ireland’s queen of healthy eating and ‘virtuous tart’, Susan Jane White. This riff on a Nigel Slater classic combines almonds, citrus and fragrant cardamom to make gluten and refined sugar-free afternoon treat.


Makes 12-16 servings

This is one very special cake, lightly adapted from my favourite chef’s kitchen. Forgive me, Nige. Xylitol sounds like a nuclear bunion buster. It is, in fact, a sweetener derived from the birch tree and is often referred to as birch sugar. Don’t ignore the cardamom seeds – it would be like making brownies without chocolate.


  • 1 cup (220g) coconut oil (firm, not melted)
  • 1 cup (200g) xylitol birch sugar
  • 3 cups (300g) ground almonds
  • just under 1 cup (150g) instant polenta
  • 3 eggs
  • juice and zest of 2 medium unwaxed oranges
  • 12 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 4 apricot kernels, very finely chopped or milled (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • decent pinch of sea salt flakes


  • juice of 2 small lemons
  • juice of 2 medium oranges
  • 3—4 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup
  • Greek yoghurt or coconut milk yoghurt, to serve
  1. Fire up your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F. You’ll need to grease a 20cm round springform tin for this cake. It’s fairly massive.
  2. Using a blender or food processor, cream the coconut oil and xylitol together. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blend until smooth.
  3. Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth the top with a spoon or tongue.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/140°C fan/325°F for another 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a skewer comes out clean from the centre of the cake. If the skewer is gooey, it needs longer. But if the skewer only has a few rich crumbs stuck to it after inserting it through the centre, you’re done.
  5. As soon as she’s out of the oven, make the sticky syrup. Boil the lemon and orange juice with your preferred sweetener until the syrup is somewhat thicker than water – 10 minutes should do the trick.
  6. Prod little holes all over the cake, still in its tin, with a metal skewer. Spoon over the hot citrus syrup and watch the cake drink up every drop.
  7. Allow to cool for a further 60 minutes before slicing into thick wedges and serving with Greek yoghurt or thick coconut milk yoghurt. Unimaginably delicious.
Virtuous TartExtracted from The Virtuous Tart by Susan Jane White. Like this? See all of our sweet and savoury recipes from Susan Jane and get her tips on making simply healthy food for the whole family in our interview.