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Áine Carlin’s Gluten-Free Orange Polenta Cake

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Áine Carlin’s Gluten-Free Orange Polenta Cake

Nothing beats the smell of this deeply sensuous cake baking in the oven. It’s enough to send me doolally and want to scoff the entire thing in a millisecond. But (but, but, but!) patience is the key here because you’ll have to wait until it’s completely cool before slathering it in the unctuous cashew frosting that sends this cake from merely fantastic into the baking stratosphere – yes, it really is that good. What makes it all the more satisfying is the sheer simplicity of its construction (you really don’t need to be a master baker to accomplish this one) and the über-crumbly texture, which makes it the perfect accompaniment to a traditional cuppa – take it from me, this pairing is absolute, unadulterated bliss. So, what are you waiting for? Get the kettle on, it’s time for tea and cake.

INGREDIENTS
Serves 8-10

120g polenta
80g ground almonds
100g gram flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
zest and juice of 2 blood oranges
100ml olive oil
100ml agave nectar
½ tsp orange extract
100ml soya yoghurt
40g crushed pistachios, to decorate

For the cashew frosting

150g cashews, soaked for at least 6 hours (see tip below)
100ml agave nectar
juice and zest of ½ an orange
½ tsp orange extract
1 heaped tsp coconut oil
2-3 tbsp water

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/gas mark 3 and grease and line a 15cm cake tin.
  1. First, make the frosting. Drain and rinse the cashews and blend in a food processor or high-speed blender with the agave, orange juice and zest, orange extract, coconut oil and 2 tbsp of the water. Scrape down the sides frequently until it becomes completely smooth, adding a little more water if necessary. The frosting will go through several stages; nutty, coarse and eventually silky smooth. You really do have to persevere to achieve the perfect frosting consistency, but don’t take a shortcut by adding too much liquid. Keep blending and it will eventually become a shadow of its former cashew self. Refrigerate until needed.
  1. Mix the polenta, ground almonds, gram flour and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl. Stir through the blood orange zest to ensure it is evenly distributed.
  1. In a separate bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, blood orange juice, agave, orange extract and yoghurt.
  1. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the orange and olive oil mixture. Fold gently and transfer to the prepared cake tin.
  1. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Check whether the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer to see if it comes out clean.
  1. Once baked, leave to cool briefly on a wire rack before removing it from the tin. Set aside until completely cool.
  1. Slather over the chilled cashew frosting, smoothing it around the sides with a spatula. Finally, decorate with crushed pistachios. The cake is best eaten fresh, but will keep for up to 3 days.

Soaking nuts

Place your chosen nuts in a bowl, cover with filtered water and set aside for at least 6 hours or better still, overnight. Feel free to change the water halfway through. Once they are plump, drain and rinse the nuts and, depending on what you are making, place them in your chosen kitchen gadget … I normally use my blender for creams and my food processor for cheeses.

Extracted from The New Vegan by Áine Carlin (Kyle Books, approx €21), out now. Photographs by Nassima Rothacker.

The.New_.Vegan_.front_.cover_

For more of Áine Carlin’s recipes, pick up the February issue of IMAGE Magazine, out now.

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