Mandarin and Polenta Cake with Mandarin Syrup

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I, like most children, grew up with mandarins in my school lunch box. Their easy to remove skin, and segments that easily break apart, make them the perfect snack for children, as opposed to their more fiddly cousins, the orange.

Despite their user friendly nature I always tend to reach for oranges when baking, you also come across more recipes that use oranges over mandarins. So whilst cleaning out my stacks of cooking magazines over the weekend I came across this cake in a Donna Hay magazine from July 2013 and gave it a try.

Much like flourless orange cakes I have cooked in the past this cake uses whole mandarins (skin and all), which are boiled until soft and whizzed to a fine pulp in the food processor. Just be sure to remove any seeds before doing so! Using the flesh and skin makes this cake deliciously aromatic, with it’s perfumed scent wafting through the house as it’s baked. The other good thing about this cake is the combination of polenta and almond meal makes this cake deliciously light, as opposed to most gluten free cakes which can be a little on the heavy side. The original recipe called for 110g of sugar in the cake – which I reduced to 90g and I also reduced the sugar in the syrup from 150g to 100g.

A beautiful and light flourless gluten free cake.

Serves: 6-8

2 mandarins
85g (½ cup) instant polenta
90g (¾ cup) almond meal (ground almonds)
½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
90g (½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
120g (⅔ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tbs water
80ml (⅓ cup) mandarin juice

Place the mandarins into a small saucepan and cover with water. Use a plate to weigh the mandarins down to fully submerge and bring to a boil over a high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until soft. Cool slightly before pureeing in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 fahrenheit) and line the sides and base of a 20cm springform tin with baking paper. Combine the polenta, almond meal and baking powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. In an electric mixer whisk the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy (around 10 minutes). Add the mandarin and polenta mixtures and fold through.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cooked. Allow to cool in the tin completely.

To make the mandarin syrup place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over a medium heat and bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, for 7 minutes or until golden. Add the mandarin juice stir to combine. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.

Remove the cake from the tin and spoon the syrup over the cake to serve.

Author: Donna Hay magazine June/July 2013

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