Wednesday 26th February 2020
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Serves 15
Preparation time: 25 - 30 Minutes
Cooking Time: 25 - 30 minutes

For the cake:
200g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
50g fine polenta
50g gluten-free flour mix
1½ teaspoons gf baking powder
3 large free-range eggs
Zest of 2 blood oranges – save the juice for the syrup
100g fresh blueberries

For the syrup:
Juice of 2 blood oranges
75g icing sugar

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Recipe by Dominic Franks

One of the most wonderful and uplifting things about the gloomy winter months is that they also coincide with blood orange season, March being the pinnacle month.

I realise that suggesting a simple citrus fruit can affect your well-being sounds like I’m being hyperbolic but I believe in the power of food, and particularly if you try to eat seasonally. It’s almost as though their sweet blush flesh and rose gold skin waves goodbye to winter and welcomes in spring.

I am currently buying them by the sackful because they are so incredible and I feel it my duty to inform you that Aldi have knocked it out of the park with their pick this season. I have no idea where they get them from but they are stunning. They have that intense sherbet flavour, sweet and sharp, and the colour is breathtaking. If I see a bag I buy three and I haven’t had a duff one yet.

The flavour works really well here in this tray bake, which is essentially an adaptation of a classic lemon polenta cake. You don’t need as much sugar for the syrup because the orange is so much sweeter but they still retain that fabulous tart twang that I adore so much.

Line the base of a 30cm x 20cm baking tray with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Beat the butter and sugar until pale and whipped. I used my freestanding mixer but feel free to beat with a wooden spoon in a large bowl.
In another bowl, mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, then once your butter and sugar is pale and fluffy beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by one egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Finally, beat in the lemon zest and blueberries – rigorously, so as to break up the berries – then spoon the mixture into your prepared tray and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack but leave it in the tin.
Make the syrup by boiling together the orange juice and icing sugar until the sugar has melted then prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer and pour the warm syrup over the cake.
Leave to ‘just’ cool before taking it out of its tin and try and eat a cube or two whilst it’s still warm… you won’t regret it.

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