Mary is my dear friend who I met on the old Hindustan-Tibetan Highway, somewhere in the Himalayas, India. She now lives in a cosy log cabin close to the end of Llyn Peninsula, Wales.
This cake went down a treat after a veggie banquet of salad, roast things and Mary’s ace chickpea stew. We hardly had room for cake, but we soldiered on anyway and ate until we could hardly stand. Hoorah for birthday excess!
People who know me, know that I am not into my frilly little cup cakes. I like a dense cake that has some substance and is not packed full of white stuff and butter. This fits this bill and then some….
I had been sitting on this recipe for a while, looking for an excuse to whip it up. I liked the sound of almonds and olive oil (although the original had pistachios instead, see link below), the polenta is also an interesting addition. I have made many changes to the original, no sugar, but honey and dates, brown flour instead of white (we didn’t have white in), cardamom added…..etc.
I also managed to use our goose eggs from Ernie (see ‘Ernie’s eggs’ article from Easter). It was a beast, breaking into it required a lumberjack hack with my knife and the yolk was truly something to behold. Vivid yellow.
The olive oil here keeps the cake moist and gives it a lovely fruity flavour. It is quite a dense cake with a subtle orange tang. I would recommend white flour here, as it will make the cake lighter.
This will make a large-ish cake, fit for around 12 good slices.
1 cup polenta, 1 cup of white flour (sieved), 2 cups of almonds (ground), 1 goose egg (or 3 hens eggs), 1 teas baking powder (sieved), 2 cups of olive oil (mild), 100g unsalted butter, 1 cup dates (well chopped), 1 big teas good honey, 1 orange (cut into segments, little pith) and juice of 1 lemon, 2 cardamom pods (optional) zest of lemon, spare almonds, dried fruit and sunflower seeds for decoration.
I added cardamom to the recipe, because I love it with orange.
We ground our almonds in our little coffee grinder. This is preferable as there are some nice lumps of nut left.
In a pan, melt butter in warm olive oil, take off heat, add your orange segments and cardamom. Allow to cool and infuse for a while (outside on the step with a lid on works).
Gently mix polenta, almonds, flour and b.p. in a bowl.
Whisk egg, date and honey in a blender. Add flavoured butter (remove cardamom pods) and oil slowly as you blend.
Empty wet ingredients into a large bowl and gradually add dry mix, stirring and folding in, then the zest and juice of lemon.
The mix should be quite wet and shiny with all that lovely oil.
Put into your favourite baking tin, preferably quite a flat one and grease well (I used more olive oil for this job). Decorate in an ostentatious way using nuts, dried berries and seeds.
Bake at 160oC for 40 mins.
The cake should be a little underdone in the middle, it finishes off on the cooling rack. Leave to cool for 10 mins in tin, before removing to the rack.
Preferably warm, we had ours with a rhubarb ice cream. Then another time with local Welsh yoghurt and some of Mary’s spiced apple compote.
We Love It!
Definitely not your average Victoria Sponge. The olive oil and almonds work a treat and the sweetness of the dates with the tang of the citrus makes this a very interesting, rich little number. One for the cool Auntie Ji in your life.
Almonds are low in saturated fats and full of calcium and magnesium, good for the bones. They are also an intense source of phytochemicals which battle against the big ‘C’ and keep your heart ticking nicely.
This is a link for the original pistachio recipe on the ‘Welsh Rarebits’ site: