Blood Orange Polenta Cake

 
I am beginning to learn that it is OK in admitting I am not perfect. I know…travesty, isn’t it? Not everything I bake, create and sauce up has to be Martha Stewart approved and Bon-Appetite worthy.
I am incredibly competitive in the kitchen and get crazy when the batter is too gloppy. Am I the only one with this issue? Admit it…come on. I know..I need a chill pill.
 
When I made hamantaschen a few weeks ago, honestly…it didn’t come out perfect the first time around. (Even admitting this is making me antsy…I have issues.) The dough was mushy and then got hard. What the heck was going on? It was a mess. Take 1 down and  the next thing I know, I’m banging on this rock-hard dead-paper weight of what’s supposed to be some amazing cookie recipe and Joe is looking at me like he married an axe murderer. Breathe Sam, breathe.  
 
 
So let’s take this masterpiece for example. Blood oranges are finally in season and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some! They are deep and tart, the prefect fruit for the end of winter.
 
 
I found the perfect recipe online  . This had texture from the polenta and a caramel coating I could bathe in. Before I show you my mishaps and how to fix them, I really want to share that this cake came out exceptional. The blood oranges served its purpose and remained tart and citrusy. The caramel sauce was sticky and sweet. You can see that the rind was left on, which is just fine. It cooks down so much and if you slice it super thin, you won’t even notice it.
Method:

1) Begin by preheating oven to 350°F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, and coarse kosher salt to blend. Set aside.

2) To make the caramel,  combine 6 Tb of sugar and 3 tablespoons water in 10-inch ovenproof skillet. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.

 3) Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber (not too dark).

4) Occasionally brush down sides of skillet with a wet pastry brush and swirl skillet, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and whisk 2 Tb butter into caramel.

Here is caramel attempt 1:

Panic mode: Check. Clumpy, gooey, sticky, dry caramel…Double check!

So how do you save this when your caramel has gone too far? Put pan back over low heat and add a Tb of water while whisking. Remove hard sugar pieces and add as much water as needed to create a silky caramel sauce.  Ta-DA!

4) Next, arrange orange slices overlapping slightly, in circles atop of caramel in the bottom of skillet.

5) Using an electric mixer, mix 3/4 c sugar,  remaining 6 Tb butter, and vanilla in another medium bowl until light and fluffy. Then add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

6) Add reserved flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk in 2 additions, beating batter just until mixed.

7) Place mixture in bowl and clean out mixing bowl VERY well. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 Tb sugar and beat until stiff.

*Note: I may have over-beated my whites. I had peaks but they weren’t as peaky. I even held the bowl over my head and it was OK. (Issues again, I know). I think if the whites were peakier (is that a word?), the cake would have come out fluffier and not as compacted.

8)  Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

9) Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop orange slices in skillet, then spread evenly.

10) Bake cake for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and allow to cool  in skillet for about 10 minutes.

11)  Now time to flip over. Run a small knife around the cake to loosen. Place a large plate on top of skillet, holding really well. Turn upside down and voila!  Squeeze any extra orange juice on top of cake.

Enjoy!

 
Blood Orange Polenta Cake

Inspired by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

    Caramel Sauce
  • 6 Tb sugar
  • 3 Tb water (you may need more)
  • 2 Tb butter
  • Cake
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus 1 Tb, separated
  • 6 Tb butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 unpeeled small to medium blood oranges, sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 Tb f lour
  • 3 Tb polenta
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 6 Tb whole milk

Instructions

  1. Begin by preheating oven to 350°F. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, and coarse kosher salt to blend. Set aside.
  2. To make the caramel, combine 6 Tb of sugar and 3 tablespoons water in 10-inch ovenproof skillet. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  3. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber (not too dark).
  4. Occasionally brush down sides of skillet with a wet pastry brush and swirl skillet, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and whisk 2 Tb butter into caramel.
  5. Next, arrange orange slices overlapping slightly, in circles atop of caramel in the bottom of skillet.
  6. Using an electric mixer, mix 3/4 c sugar, remaining 6 Tb butter, and vanilla in another medium bowl until light and fluffy. Then add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add reserved flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk in 2 additions, beating batter just until mixed.
  8. Place mixture in bowl and clean out mixing bowl VERY well. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 Tb sugar and beat until stiff.
  9. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.
  10. Drop batter by large spoonfuls atop orange slices in skillet, then spread evenly.
  11. Bake cake for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and allow to cool in skillet for about 10 minutes.
  12. Now time to flip over. Run a small knife around the cake to loosen. Place a large plate on top of skillet, holding really well. Turn upside down and voila! Squeeze any extra orange juice on top of cake.
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