Chocolate Orange Polenta Cake

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Every so often I find a couple of pieces of abandoned fruit at the bottom of the fruit bowl. Even though they might not be really manky, they are no longer glowing with health and you know nobody is going to eat them. Now if we are talking about apples and pears, or even plums or actually most other fruit, the obvious solution is to cook them and put them in a pie. Whilst nothing would give me greater pleasure than to cook everything and put it in a pie, there are always going to be awkward exceptions. Citrus fruit is one of them. To be fair, I haven’t tried to make a pie out of them as I can’t imagine it being a match made in heaven but if you feel I am being unnecessarily dismissive then please, let me know.

There is, however, a less well known solution, which is just as easy and simply involves boiling the whole fruit for an hour or so, then pureeing the whole thing to add to a cake batter.  I have tweaked a Hairy Bikers’ recipe I found on the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/orange_cake_57974) by  changing it from a semolina based cake, to make chocolate polenta/ teff, with a deliciously moist chocolate cake very reminiscent of Christmas as a result (if you’re English- think Terry’s Chocolate Orange). But it is a very adaptable recipe, and will suit whatever citrus fruit you have lurking around your kitchen, although my advice would be to stick with plain polenta if you are using lemons. I haven’t tried limes yet (probably because they always end up in a gin and tonic before they get too old in my house) but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, both with and without the chocolate, so don’t be put off from giving them a go too.

Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe

2 past their best oranges

120g butter

120g light brown sugar

2 eggs (medium)

3 tsp baking powder

180g mix of polenta, teff and plain flour. I used 100g polenta, 40g teff and 40g plain flour, with 3 tbsp removed.

3 tbsp cocoa powder

Start by greasing and lining a 23 cm loose bottomed cake tin, and preheating the oven to 180 deg C.

Boil your oranges for an hour or so until they feel quite squishy when you prod them a bit. (As yet, I haven’t found a use for the water that you boil them in, apart from the 100 ml used in this recipe, and it smells so nice and orangey afterwards! If you have any ideas, let me know)

Puree your oranges with pips removed in the food processor.

Cream together your butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs a bit at a time.

Mix in your flour mixture, cocoa and baking powder, then fold through the orange pulp. Beat in 100 ml of the (bring to the boil again) water you cooked your oranges in, and pour the batter into the prepared tin.

Bake for 50 mins, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Be warned, I had to cover mine for at least the final 20 minutes to stop the top catching, but that might just be my over zealous oven.

Leave to cool in the tin on a wire wrack, then dust with icing sugar to serve.

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