Orange Syrup Polenta Cake


So remember how I made candied citrus peel with the peels left over from my yogurt panna cotta citrus tart? Well, taking my leftovers game to a new level, I’m using the citrus syrup left over from my candied peel in yet another recipe! This cake is dense and moist, fragrant with orange flavor and slightly sticky from the syrup. The cornmeal and almonds help the cake keep its shape so it’s perfect for eating out of hand by the slice, and the overall flavor is just breakfast-like enough that you don’t feel guilty for doing so! (I had some for breakfast the other day with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and regret nothing.)

Another plus is that the recipe doesn’t require a mixer– I enjoy a light, fluffy butter cake as much as the next person, but lugging out my stand mixer and then cleaning it is kind of a pain, so it’s great to have a whisk-only recipe once in a while. And the melting here means no waiting for butter to soften!

Did I mention that it’s flourless and therefore gluten-free? Just another reason to give it a try…

Here, I re-heated my leftover syrup before pouring it over the hot cake, but the recipe includes instructions for making your own fresh syrup if you don’t happen to have extra from a recent recipe.



Orange Syrup Polenta Cake (adapted slightly from Anna Olson)

1 cup milk
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp.  finely grated orange zest
1 cup ground almonds
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

½ cup orange juice
½ cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ round cake pan with parchment and spray with baking spray.

2. Heat the milk and butter in the microwave or in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter has melted.

3. Place the cornmeal in a large bowl and pour the milk-butter mixture into it, whisking as you go (it will thicken up quickly).

4. Whisk in the sugar and add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition. Stir in the orange zest.

5. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds with baking powder and salt, then add to batter, stirring until smooth.


6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.


7. When your cake comes out of the oven, combine orange juice and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

8. Using a skewer, poke holes all over the surface of your hot cake. Slowly pour hot syrup over the cake, allowing it to soak in thoroughly. Use all of the syrup. Let cool before serving. Candied peel or sliced oranges/kumquats make a nice accompaniment.


Note: I used regular cornmeal and unblanched almonds (meaning that the almonds still had their skins). I think both of these contributed to the slightly coarse “rustic” texture of the cake. I’ll bet if you used a finer grind of cornmeal and blanched almonds, the cake would be a bit more refined in presentation.


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