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Friday 7 February 2014

Let Her Eat Cake: Spiced Sumac Polenta Cake

It's February, National 'God I wish I was somewhere warm, WHY must I wear all these layers?!' Month. Cloudy, face-numbing cold days call for warming, exotic cakey treats. If you haven't heard of sumac, it's a wonderful, deep pink spice with a zingy, lemony flavour often used in middle eastern cooking. Combined with orange, almond and the glorious yellow of polenta, this cake is a slice of warmness IN YOUR FACE.

You can find Sumac or Sumaq in the world section of most supermarkets.

Spiced Sumac Polenta Cake
You will need:
For the cake:
  • 200g butter, softened 
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 150g polenta (fine cornmeal)
  • 50g self-raising flour
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • Zest 1 orange
  • Handful flaked almonds
For the syrup:
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Small pinch saffron strands
  • Sumac and almonds, to decorate
Make it!
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 165C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm baking tin. 
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
  3. Measure the polenta and flour into the bowl. 
  4. Beat the eggs in a jug, together with the sumac and orange zest. 
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the polenta and beat to combine. 
  6. Stir in the flaked almonds.
  7. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and a skewer pushed into the middle comes out clean. 
  8. Place on a wire-rack and leave to cool in the tin. 
The syrup:
  1. Whilst the cake is cooking, put the caster sugar, juice and saffron strands (don't overdo these) in a pan, along with 2 tbsp water.
  2. Simmer over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the liquid has reduced slightly. 
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside. 
  4. Use a skewer to poke holes in the top of the cooling cake. Spoon the syrup over the top, making sure to cover the whole cake evenly. 
  5. Decorate with a dusting of sumac and a scattering of flaked almonds.


  1. It is my boyfriend's birthday today and he requested a lemon polenta cake - what an awesome coincidence!

    Will definitely make this soon - grey Brussels could really do with a bit of Moroccan sun!

    1. I was in Brussels on Monday, it was sunny!

    2. Oh I do hope you had a nice time! I complain about it but it's a great city. It was absolutely beautiful for a few days, but then the heavens opened yesterday...

    3. I spent the afternoon there after a weekend in Bruges and it was all brilliant. That cathedral you've got is pretty special. Spent a good while just sitting and staring at that, mouth wide open.


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