Friday, 11 April 2014

Toasted Almond & Polenta
Marmalade  Cake

This delectable scented cake gets it's roots from the Middle East and through time, the ingredients made their way to Southern Italy.
Golden sweet oranges, dark roasted almonds, gritty corn meal and dark vanilla beans add a chewy hearty texture to this heavenly scented cake from, the first bite to its last. 
Blood oranges if you can find them, would be a showstopping colour and add a touch of tartness.

My experience has taught me the importance of adding a few special touches to make foods & desserts really stand out. 
To this particular recipe I toasted the almonds.
Such a simple step that I add when the oven is preheating, pop those almonds in and they are ready in 20 min!
I always make more than I need and they are a great snack
Not only did this cake bake lusciously dark and rich but, the taste really stands out. There is so much chewiness because I ground the almonds myself instead of buying the costly already ground almonds which would burn if you attempted to toast them. The corn meal adds a whole different texture and chew which is unusual and quite a nice surprise!
That alone makes it special but, the added fragrant scent of zested oranges and vanilla bean add a wonderful perfume to the cake and to the house as it bakes.
This cake is rooted in my Italian history and is a special dish that we bake at this time of the year,
Spring right near Easter,
this cake symbolizes 
a time of renewal with the fresh taste of oranges 
and Mediterranean ingredients.
Rustic, simple ingredients that are not fancy or showstopping but rather delicious in their natural state, which is how things should be enjoyed!

Toasted Almond & Polenta Marmalade Cake
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp margarine
2-3 large oranges
3/4 cup margarine or  sunflower oil
3/4 cup sugar
3 lg eggs
1/2 Rodelle Vanilla bean or 2 tsp Rodelle pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups ground toasted almonds
3/4 cup fine polenta (yellow corn meal)
 course can be used, it will be chewier

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest from 2 oranges
1/4 cup marmalade or light jelly
1 tbsp pure lemon juice
Caramel Prep:
Pour the sugar into a cast iron skillet, add the water and turn the heat up to #6 or #7.
Allow the sugar to begin to melt to a golden stage. Don't touch it just swirl the pan to distribute the liquid gold. Turn off when it becomes golden brown all over. This should take 6-10min. Stir in the margarine, if it crystallizes it doesn't matter.

This is just starting to become golden 
Meanwhile cut the ends of the zested oranges off.
Place the orange flat side down and saw off the peel, removing the white pith.

Slice oranges 1/4" thick

 Place in the skillet, nice side down.

Toasting Almonds 
Place approx. 3 1/2 cup of whole almonds with their peel on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven while the oven is preheating for approx. 20 min. Remove and cool to the touch. Place in a food processor and grind finely but not to a paste. Measure out amount needed.

In a mixer beat shortening with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and blend.
Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise.

Using a knife scrape out the beans and add.
Do not throw this bean! Push it down into your sugar to aromatize.
Add the remaining dry ingredients and zest.
Blend to mix.

Scrape out the mix and spread over oranges.

 Bake in a preheated 350F for 40-45min or until
an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Allow to rest 10 min.

Run a knife around the edges.
Place a large platter over the pan.

 Place your hand on the dish and flip the cake over.
Melt the marmalade, stir in the juice and brush over the oranges 

 Brush the cake as well
Enjoy with love! 

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