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Mandarin and polenta cakes

Frank Camorra
Frank Camorra

Small cakes are incredibly versatile: they can be a bit of fun for morning tea or an elegant dessert with ice-cream or a zesty lemon curd. These mandarin and polenta cakes are a fantastic citrusy treat that, brushed with syrup, are super moist and a surefire hit with guests. They are also gluten-free and you can swap the mandarins for oranges. Serve them with a dollop of creme fraiche or yoghurt and an extra drizzle of syrup.

Small joys: Mandarin and polenta cakes.
Small joys: Mandarin and polenta cakes. Photo: Marcel Aucar


200g butter, at room temperature

200g brown sugar

3 large eggs

1  tsp vanilla essence

200g ground almonds

100g coarse polenta

2 mandarins, zested

1  tsp baking powder

250ml mandarin juice

1 vanilla pod, split and scraped

125g castor sugar



Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease six dariole moulds, line the bottom and sides with baking paper and grease again (or use a muffin tin lined with eight patty pans).

Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one by one, then stir in the vanilla essence.

In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, polenta, mandarin zest and baking powder, then stir into the cake mix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes, until the surface is light brown and the cake is coming away slightly from the sides of the tin.

Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 10 minutes then, handling them carefully, turn out of the mould onto a plate. 

For the syrup, put remaining ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over a low–medium heat until reduced and thickened slightly; it should take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Prick the cakes all over with a skewer and brush generously with the syrup. 


Main ingredient:
Nuts, Eggs
Dessert, Snacks, Finger-food
Picnic, Morning/Afternoon Tea, Birthday, Dinner Party

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