May 09, 2011

Pistachio polenta cake with mandarin syrup and figs

Those gorgeous figs I bought from the farm the other day have been patiently waiting for the perfect recipe. I wanted to make something where the fresh figs would compliment the flavours and not be overpowered by anything else. This pistachio and polenta cake makes a perfect companion to the ripe and sweet figs and it was a lovely treat for an afternoon tea on Mother's Day.  

You'll notice I've used more sugar than perhaps my average sweet recipes. You could probably use only about 50g and it would be sweet enough - I suggest using natural brown sugar or raw sugar. Instead of the gluten-free flour mix I've used you could mix your own from brown rice flour, sourghum or teff, for instance.
This would work well with orange juice as well, but mandarins are aplenty at the moment, so I've opted for them instead.

Pistachio polenta cake with mandarin syrup and figs
(Recipe adapted from

40g shelled pistachios
4 large free-range eggs, separated
70g natural brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated mandarin zest
125ml fresh mandarin juice
80g polenta
110 g gluten-free flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
tiny pinch of salt

Mandarin syrup

125ml fresh mandarin juice
60ml maple syrup
1 heaped tablespoon manuka honey
1 teaspoon natural raw vanilla sugar

fresh figs, quartered, to serve

* I used plain gluten-free flour (Orgran brand) which is a mixture of maize starch, tapioca flour and rice flour.

1. Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a 22 cm round cake tin. Line the cake tin with baking paper.

2. Place the pistachio kernels in a food processor and blitz until fine.

3. Combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk with electric beaters until pale and thick. 

4. Add in the mandarin zest and juice, pistachios, polenta and flour mixed with baking powder. Stir until smooth.

5. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the polenta mixture.

6. Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake for 30 minutes.

7. For the mandarin syrup, combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat through. Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the syrup onto the cake (whilst still slightly warm in the tin) and serve the rest of the syrup, along with fresh figs, with the cake.