It uses whole, boiled citrus fruits, which are blitzed up in a processor with all the other ingredients and contribute a range of delicious, marmaladey flavours to the finished cake. I’ve added blueberries too, which burst juicily as you dig in with your fork. Boiling the fruit may sound like a fuss, but it’s really no more work than boiling an egg – albeit for an hour!
This is a simplified version of a classic Claudia Roden recipe, and I really don’t think it’s lost any of its charm in my adaptation.
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1 medium orange (unwaxed if possible, or scrubbed under warm water if not)
- A little rapeseed or sunflower oil, for oiling
- 150 g fine (not quick-cook) polenta or cornmeal
- 100 g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder (use a gluten-free baking powder to make this gluten-free)
- 4 large eggs
- 250 g caster sugar
- 200 g blueberries
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Put the lemons and orange in a saucepan and cover with boiling water from the kettle.
Place a lid from a smaller pan, or a small heatproof plate or something similar on top of the fruit to stop them floating, then cover the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 hour until very soft, topping up the water if necessary. Remove the fruit from the water and leave to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Oil a 23cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment. Tear the boiled fruit apart and remove any pips, as well as the stem ends at the top of the fruit. Put the orange and lemon pieces in a food processor and add all the remaining ingredients except the blueberries. Blitz thoroughly, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice, until you have a thick batter.
Scrape the batter into the tin. Add the blueberries and stir them in lightly, getting them fairly evenly distributed. Bake for 45–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack, then run a knife around the sides to release the cake and remove from the tin. Serve in thick slices.
Greedy pud version
Serve the cake warm from the oven, with a sauce made by warming a couple of tablespoons of good marmalade with a little cider, apple or orange juice. Add a sprinkling of toasted almonds if you like.
Recipe from Light & Easy by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, hb, $45.00). Photography © Simon Wheeler.