Orange polenta cake with edible nasturtiums

Eating flowers

It seems wrong to eat flowers, I mean they’re just so nice to look at after all.  But you’re missing a treat if you don’t and there are so many more edible flowers out there than I had imagined.  I knew of lavender and I like to decorate cakes with the pretty pale purple flowers from the rosemary plant.  I’ve tinkered with rose leaves and I am a huge fan of rose essence and water.   I saw elderflowers put to great use yesterday at Warner Edwards gin distillery as they made a new batch of beautiful delicately scented and flavoured elderflower gin, the gin will be available from next week but a sneaky taste told me that it’s very special.

Last week I got a beautiful bag of orange and yellow nasturtium complete with mini-lily pad like leaves in my veggie box.  My first thought was to put them in a salad, many edible flowers such as  borage, chive flower and even carnations have a slightly spicy, even peppery taste that works well with salad leaves.  They look beautiful too of course and can lift even the most humble of salads.

 

Nasturtium have a slightly sweet taste and as it was my lovely mum’s birthday last week they were destined to end up on her birthday cake.  And very nice they looked too.

 

My mum is not great with gluten and cake is not generally her friend.  It makes her feel ill.  I can only hope that’s not a mother to daughter trait that is passed on to me.  A life without cake seems too cruel.  Anyway, amateur dramatics aside, I made a gluten free, sticky orange and polenta cake for her.  The nasturtium and leaves were scattered on top and Bob’s your uncle, Jennifer’s your mum and a happy birthday was sealed.

Orange polenta cake with nasturtiums

Speaking of cakes and birthdays, my cousin Corinne shares a birthday with my mum.  She was the big 50 this year and Amber made her a festival (she goes to loads of festivals) themed birthday cake to celebrate.  What do you think?

Corinne and festival cake

Sticky orange and almond polenta cake (gluten free)

Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Occasion Birthday Party

What you will need

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 100g fine polenta
  • 50g chestnut flour (Use gluten free flour if you want to make the cake gluten free and can't find chestnut flour. If gluten is your friend just bung in self raising instead)
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 oranges (zest and segments of one, juice of all the others)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • icing sugar (for dusting on top)
  • edible flowers such as nasturtium (if you can get hold of them)

Instructions

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C Fan / Gas 4. Line a 9" spring form cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar together and add in the eggs. Mix well together
Step 2 Stir in the polenta, flour, poppy seeds and almonds followed by the juice of two oranges and orange segments, mixing well until all are combined
Step 3 Transfer into the cake tin and bake for about one hour, or until a skewer comes out clean
Step 4 In the meantime add the zest and juice of the remaining orange to a pan with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar. Slowly bring to the boil, leave to bubble for a couple of minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't stick. Set aside.
Step 5 When the cake is cooked pour on the orange syrup and leave to cool
Step 6 Serve slightly warm, or leave to cool completely
Step 7 Serve dusted with icing sugar, or with edible flowers such as nasturtium scattered on top

4 Comments

  • Two of my favourite things! I made a Nigel Slater citrus and almond polenta cake for my daughter’s first birthday and I think it was one of the best I’ve ever made. Nasturtiums are some of my favourite blooms as well, I just love the way they pop out of vegetable patches.

    • Sarah Scott (Author)

      Ah, and there was me thinking I had ‘invented’ a cake :) Yes, great flavours together, what a lovely first birthday cake! Nasturtiums are just lovely to look at and eat.

  • Love the sound of that, and so pretty too! Funnily enough, we ate a lot of flowers recently on our travels. I am not sure whether we were meant to eat them, but they were on our plates! :D

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