Life Is Like A Dumpling

Blood orange polenta upside-down cake

Happy belated Valentine’s Day! Although I did celebrate with my boyfriend*, I also treated myself and bought a cast iron skillet. And some ramekins. And an icing set. My reasoning: it’s important to invest in yourself. I also figured that these were kitchen items that I would use- cornbread with my skillet, soufflé with my ramekins, cake decorating with the icing set. Lewis encouraged me to buy the icing set because, apparently, I whined about not having a proper icing set on our second date.

The first thing I made with my cast iron skillet: blood orange polenta upside-down cake. My love for polenta itself increases my love for this cake exponentially. The texture is amazingly light (the secret: I always prefer to use yoghurt instead of milk when possible), but also very moist and flavorful. Also, bonus points for being gluten-free! I loved it so much that I made four cakes- two for me and my flatmates, one for friends, and one for my tutorial. Ah, procrastibaking at its finest. The lack of word count for my essay is evidence enough that it’s feeling quite neglected.

P.S. Happy lent to everyone who decided to give something up! I gave up the supermarket, so all my purchases will be from the local fruit and vegetable store, the butcher’s (I don’t eat meat, but they sell the best eggs) and the health food store. Hopefully my purchases will be more ethical and environmental than they would be if I spent my money at Tesco’s.

*It involved everything I love: lots of chocolate at The Chocolate Tree, seeing the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo, a visit to Anthropologie and having the most ridiculously good sushi ever. He has a skill for planning the best surprises.


Blood orange polenta upside-down cake
For a 10 inch diamater ovenproof skillet with 8 inch diamater bottom and 2 1/2 inch high sides.  
7 tablespoons sugar + 3/4 cup sugar separately
3 tablespoons water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
3 unpeeled small to medium blood oranges
3/4 cup and 3 tablespoons gluten-free flour
3 tablespoons polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
6 tablespoons plain yoghurt

*For dairy-free: replace plain yoghurt with soy milk, and butter for soy butter

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. On the stovetop, place 6 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water in your skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. When the sugar dissolves, increase the heat and simmer until the syrup is golden (not dark!) amber. Don’t stir- this is the mistake I always make, because I’m impatient when it comes to food. This will take around 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, and add 2 tablespoons of butter into the caramel.

While it’s cooling, slice your blood oranges. Cut off both ends of the orange, and slice oranges very thinly (1/16 to 1/8 inch-thick rounds). Remove the seeds and arrange the orange slices in the skillet, overlapping slightly in a circular pattern.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt. Using the electric mixer, beat the sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter, and vanilla until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, and add the flour mixture and yoghurt alternately. Mix until smooth.

Transfer the mixture into another bowl. Clean the mixing bowl and beaters, and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff, but not dry. Fold half of the egg whites into the batter. Mix, and fold in the remaining egg whites. Spoon the batter into the skillet and spread evenly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and cool. Once the cake is cooled, place a plate atop the skillet and flip the cake onto the plate. Eat while warm, or cool and accompany with ice cream or crème fraîche 🙂


Adapted from To Food With Love, Epicurious and Bon Appétit

This entry was published on February 18, 2013 at 9:58 am. It’s filed under Dairy-free, Desserts, Gluten-free, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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