Cooking Ottolenghi

Last year my good friend, Anneli – chef and the hostess with the mostess, gave me Ottolenghi the cookbook; as thank you for helping her out with the preparations of her annual barbecue party. It was quite a task. Precision was the order of the day, night and the following day…  It was a pleasure and at the same time inspiring to see how she works and cares about food. I was in charge of preparing some of the salads featured in the book.
French beans and mangetout with hazelnut and orange, Puy lentils sour cherries,bacon, gorgonzola & peaches and speck with orange blossom

Over last summer/spring I served these salads over and over again to different audiences, including some clients at photo shoots to a resounding success (or they lied very well…)

But one recipe in the book caught my eye and I wonder how easy was to cook it… here is the story in pictures:

Orange Caramel Polenta cake
Orange caramel

1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 navel orangesFOR CAKE
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons orange-flower water
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups ground almonds (7 oz)
2/3 cup quick-cooking polentaFOR GLAZE
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan, then line bottom with a round of parchment paper and side with a strip of parchment.
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally so caramel colors evenly, until dark amber.
Remove from heat and add butter, swirling pan until incorporated, then carefully but quickly pour caramel into cake pan, tilting it to coat evenly.
Grate zest from oranges and reserve for cake. Cut remaining peel, including white pith, from both oranges with a paring knife. Cut oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Remove any seeds and arrange slices in 1 layer over caramel.
Beat butter with sugar using an electric mixer until just combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in orange-flower water and reserved zest.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer at low speed, mix almonds, polenta, and flour mixture into egg mixture until just combined.
Spread batter evenly over oranges (preferably with an offset spatula). Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Invert cake onto a cake plate and discard parchment.

Heat marmalade with water in a small saucepan until melted. Strain through a sieve into a small bowl. Brush top of cake with some of glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Level of difficulty:  medium – some baking experience needed.
well worth all the effort!



1 Comment

  1. Andrea
    February 11, 2011 / 9:59 pm

    It looks like came from Ottolenghi's shop. Must try.