Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Orange Polenta Cake
Hold the butter, sugar, white flour, and the eggs, this is a wholly different approach to a tasty, orange-infused polenta cake. It is made with a whole-orange purée and glazed with an orange-juice reduction. The polenta, sweetened with dates and scented with vanilla, orange powder or zest, and saffron is light and moist. This fragrant, nutrient-dense, low-fat cake is lovely after a meal, at teatime, and packed in a lunchbox. Make the orange paste and glaze ahead to save time.
Prep time 1 hour for orange purée and glaze plus 30 minutes
Bake time 90 minutes
Makes an 8-inch cake or 6 to 8 servings
1 cup date paste from 1½ cups pitted dates, any variety
1 12-ounce carton frozen orange juice concentrate, reduced
1 large ripe organic orange
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon good quality saffron threads, pulverized and steeped
Full ¾ cup instant polenta
2 flax eggs from 2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseed
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon orange powder or zest from 1 large ripe organic orange
½ cup almond milk
¼ cup aquafaba from the liquid in a can of unsalted canned chickpeas
Garnish with 2 ripe organic oranges, trimmed and cut in ¼-inch slices
To make the date paste, add the dates to a small pot, cover with water, simmer for 5 minutes. Alternatively, add them to a small bowl, cover with water, and microwave for 2 minutes. Cool. Use a blender to purée the dates with their soaking water into a smooth, soft paste.
To make the orange glaze, empty the carton of frozen orange juice into a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the juice by about three-quarters into a syrup; it should lightly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat. The orange reduction will continue to thicken as it cools. Taste. If the glaze is too sour or bitter for your tastes, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of date paste to balance the flavor.
To make the orange purée, trim the top and bottom pithy ends of the orange. Cut in quarters and then cut each quarter in half. Transfer to a pot, just cover with water, add 3 tablespoons of date paste, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder, if using. Cover and simmer on low, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the fruit is extremely soft, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. If using vanilla extract, add it now. Transfer to a high-speed blender and run at its highest setting to make a velvety smooth, fragrant, purée. Taste and correct the amount of vanilla or date paste, as needed.
To prepare the saffron threads, pulverize into a powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. There are two methods to “bloom” saffron into a tea for optimal aroma and flavor: Either steep the ground pistils in a few tablespoons hot water bath or add an ice cube to the saffron powder and allow it to slowly melt.
To make the flax “eggs” combine the freshly ground flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl, mixing it well. Allow it to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Using a whisk attachment to an immersion blender, or an eggbeater, whip the aquafaba and cream of tartar to create stiff peaks.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F convection), placing a rack on the middle shelf. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper by cutting a disk for the bottom and 3-inch strip for the sides.
In a mixing bowl add the polenta, baking powder, orange powder or zest, and white whole wheat flour, stirring to combine them well.
In another bowl add ½ cup of the date paste, ½ cup of the orange purée, the flax “eggs”, the almond milk, and the saffron tea, stirring well to combine.
Empty the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring to combine. Now gently fold the whipped aquafaba into the batter, and using a silicon spatula, transfer the batter into the lined baking tin.
Place the tin in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin and pour a few tablespoons of the orange glaze over the top, spreading evenly with a bristle brush. The cake will still be very soft, so brush gently. Return the cake to the oven and bake another 30 minutes before reglazing the cake again. Bake for a final 30 minutes and remove the cake from the oven and reglaze it one final time. Insert a toothpick in the cake’s center to test for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. If not, return to the oven for 5 minutes and retest. When the cake is done, place the tin on a cooling rack and leave it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before opening the springform.
Remove the cake from the tin and peel off the parchment. Transfer to a pretty cake plate. To garnish, cut off the tops and bottoms of the two smaller oranges. Cut off the sides’ peel and pith, following the curves of the fruit with your knife. Cut each orange into ¼-inch slices and use them to decorate the top of the cake.
Slice pieces of the cake and serve immediately while warm or at room temperature.
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