Bursting with the delicious flavours of the Mediterranean, this Orange, Pistachio and Honey Polenta Cake, is naturally gluten free, dairy free AND refined sugar free. It’s also very easy to make and, of course, totally delicious!
This cake began with a desire to create something a little bit different for Mother’s Day…when you google Mother’s day recipes, the results are a little bit depressing – put it this way, there is a lot of salmon, Victoria sandwich cakes and petits fours!
Not that I have anything against salmon, Victoria sandwich cakes and petits fours, but it all feels very clichéd. I wanted to do something a little bit different…something I would enjoy and, I hope, so would other mothers too. But also something easy – so it could be made FOR the mother in question and not BY her! (Yes I realise that lots of sons/daughters/kids/dads etc. are super competent at making cakes, but lots aren’t! My hubby has a total aversion to making cakes, so consequently I never get cakes on my birthday or Mother’s Day, as my kids aren’t old enough to make them by themselves yet (though give my daughter a year or two…) But seriously this cake is so simple even my husband could make it!)
And then, whilst I was still pondering what to make, we went to ASK Italian as a family and they have on the dessert menu the most amazing Pistachio and Olive Oil Cake. Now, I like cake, but I don’t normally love cake, but this cake I was totally blown away by…it was amazing and so I decided, then and there, that that is what I would like to make as my Mother’s Day recipe this year.
But this cake is much too nice to be made just once for Mother’s Day. I think it would also make an amazing Easter cake or really for any time when you need an easy but celebratory kind of cake!
And oh this cake is so easy…no creaming, no folding, no faffing about at all – just mix together the wet and the dry ingredients and put in the oven. Ten minutes prep…tops!
In fact, the only thing that is likely to slow you down is chopping the pistachios…which is a bit of a long job by hand (though you could try the bashing with a rolling pin in a plastic bag trick), but if you have a nut grinder, food processor or blender that can handle the job then it is easy peasy. I used my new favourite toy – my Froothie Optimum G2.3 Blender and it was amazing – literally 3 presses of the pulse button and 250g pistachios turned to dust. I am more and more impressed with this fab machine as I go along (do read my Froothie Optimum G2.3 Blender Review for more info).
Once the cake is cooked (which only takes 25-30 minutes) it is drizzled with an orange and honey syrup to make it super moist and extra delicious (and when I say syrup, I mean orange juice mixed with honey – but orange and honey syrup sounds fancier) and decorated with leftover pistachios and orange peel – which is the sort of cake decoration I love – it looks impressive, but is actually really ridiculously simple and A LOT of fun and impossible to get wrong.
Not only is this cake totally delicious and ridiculously easy to make, but it also just so happens to be gluten free (because I’ve used polenta, not flour), dairy free (because I’ve used olive oil, not butter) and refined sugar free (because I’ve used honey, not sugar). And because it’s not got vast amounts of sugary icing on top, it’s a lot lower in sugar than your average Mother’s day cake…and whilst I’m definitely not going to call this cake a health food, it’s actually got quite a bit of goodness going on there…which is a little bonus!
One little note about the olive oil – unless you REALLY like the taste of strong extra virgin olive oil, I recommend a milder one for this cake. I do really like the flavour extra virgin olive oil and so I loved it in this cake, but if you are not such a fan, I recommend going for a mild and fruity one, like this one from Napolina or this one from Filippo Berio, which doesn’t have such a dominant flavour.
And one quick note about the oranges – make sure you zest them BEFORE you juice them! It’s nigh on impossible to do it afterwards!
And whatever you do DON’T buy the pistachios in their shells…unless you actually WANT to spend hours shelling them. You can buy shelled pistachios (AKA pistachio kernels) easily from the supermarkets these days.
- 200g fine polenta
- 200g pistachio kernels, ground or chopped finely
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 4 eggs
- 175ml honey
- 200ml olive oil
- Juice of 1 orange (roughly 50ml)
- 50ml honey
- 50g pistachio kernels, ground or chopped finely
- Zest of 1 orange
- Preheat oven to 160C. Grease a 8inch/20cm cake tin with a little olive oil and line the base with baking paper. Grease the top of the baking paper with a little olive oil too.
- Mix all the polenta with 200g ground/chopped pistachios and orange zest from 1 of the oranges in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs, 175ml honey, all the olive oil and the juice from 1 of the oranges in a large bowl or jug.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the batter into the greased and lined tin and cook in the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is light gold and a skewer comes out clean.
- Just before the cake is ready to come out, mix 50ml orange juice from the second orange with 50ml honey and pour over the hot cake whilst still in the tin – leave for at least 10 minutes before removing the cake from the tin.
- Place the cake on a plate or a stand and decorate with remaining pistachios and orange zest.
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