I’ve been spending way too much time on Pinterest lately (see for yourself! www.pinterest.com/tncake) and there’s an awful lot of polenta and olive oil cakes on there. I use polenta to make biscuits crumbly and roast potatoes extra crispy but not for much else. I was also intrigued by the idea of olive oil in a cake. Oil based cakes last for much longer so for those of you who tend have some left hanging around and end up throwing it away then this could be the recipe for you. Anyway, I came up with this particular recipe because I had all the ingredients for it already in the cupboard (or the garden) and I was very pleased with the results. The fresh fennel seeds pop in your mouth when you bite onto them. I imagine you could use dried ones though, or leave them out altogether if you’re not keen. The cake itself was devoured by friends and family within 24 hours. So much for making a cake that ‘lasts’.
8 oz. caster sugar
Zest of one orange
Zest of one lemon
8 oz. self raising flour
3 ½ oz. polenta
8 fl oz extra virgin olive oil
4-5 heads of fresh fennel seeds, seeds picked off
10-12 sprigs of thyme, a good handful anyway
1-2 tablespoons orange oil
Measure out the olive oil and strip the thyme leaves from the woody stems into the oil. Set aside and preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180C. Line a spring form cake tin (this cake is pretty deep, so use one of a decent size)
Using an electric whisk, or one of those brilliant but expensive mixers, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and at least doubled in volume.
Add your orange oil to the olive oil and mix
Beat in a little of the dry mixture and the oil alternately into the egg mixture
Throw in your fennel seeds and fold in to distribute.
Pour into your tin and bake for about an hour, maybe more, depending on your oven. Mine isn’t great, it took about an hour and ten minutes.
When cooked, leave in the tin for about 15 minutes before removing and leaving to cool on a rack. This cake goes really well with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.