There was no doubt we would make Corned Beef and Cabbage for a traditional Saint Patrick’s day dinner. We love this meal and we always comment “why don’t we make this more often”? Our only “twist” is using Guinness Stout as the cooking liquid. Other than that, it is 100% traditional: corned beef, carrots, small potatoes and cabbage – roasted for many hours in a slow oven.
What was not so traditional was the Orange Cornmeal and Almond flour cake I made for dessert. Dave asked me “How is this cake Irish”?
I explained that I was browsing Irish recipes on the Saveur website, when I came across the most beautiful Irish blog, Farmette. The cake recipe was created by an Irish chef, Donal Skehan and included in his new book, Homecooked, and was featured on Farmette as part of a virtual book tour. In spite of the fact that none of the ingredients come from Ireland, my explanation was accepted and we agreed this was an Irish dessert.
I followed the recipe exactly the first time, using polenta. The cake was far too gritty and heavy. I made it a second time with finely ground corn meal and it came out perfect. I am wondering if Irish polenta is more finely ground than the Bob’s Red Mill polenta I had on hand. I increased the ingredient quantities to fit a 9″ pan, rather than the 8″ pan used in the original recipe. I added “semi-candied” orange peel*, as a garnish.
ORANGE CORNMEAL CAKE
adapted from Orange Polenta Cake with Honey and Rosewater Syrup, Donal Skehan, Homecooked, via Farmette blog
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 cups almond flour
1 cup finely ground corn meal
1/3 cup all purpose flour (or gluten free flour blend, such as Cup 4 Cup)
2 heaped tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup caster (bakers) sugar
12 ounces softened butter
4 large eggs
Grated zest of 3 large oranges
Additional 2 oranges if making candied orange peel garnish
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
Creme fraiche, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 350′. Grease a 9″ diameter springform pan, then line the base with baking parchment.
2. Place cardamom in a bowl together with the almond flour, corn meal, all purpose flour and baking powder.
3. Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl until the mixture is light and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold the dry ingredients into this mixture with a spatula until just combined. Add two-thirds of the orange zest together with the vanilla extract, and just fold through.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place it on the middle rack of the oven to bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
FOR THE SYRUP
Juice of 2 large oranges
1/4 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liquor (optional)
5. Prepare the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bringing to a steady simmer.
6. Pierce holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer while it is cooling and pour over half the syrup, a little at a time, until the cake has soaked it up. Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts, drizzle with the remaining syrup and sprinkle with remaining orange zest to decorate.
7. Serve in slices with a little creme fraiche.
*Laura’s Semi-Candied Orange Peel
I wanted something quick and pretty. Searching the web did not really give me the results I wanted, which led to my little experiment. I made the orange peel “shreds” using the special peeler I bought to make Green Papaya Salad. It worked really well. I put the shreds in a pyrex bowl, covered them with a little water, covered the bowl and microwaved it on high for 4 minutes. I drained the water, covered the shreds with 1/2 cup of sugar, a little more water, covered the bowl, and cooked another 5 minutes on high in the microwave. I let it cool for a few minutes and then removed the shreds from the bowl with a fork, onto a cutting board. They were not as curly as I wanted, so I wrapped them around a chop stick, held them for a second, and let them continue to cool. It was a lot of extra work, but I really like the results!