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.
ORANGE, CARDAMOM & POLENTA CAKE
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.
FOR THE CAKE
- 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
FOR THE SYRUP
- 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
- 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.
- Using a blender or food processor, cream the coconut oil and xylitol together. Add the remaining cake ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Spoon into your prepared tin and smooth the top with a spoon or tongue.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.