Gwilym’s Blood Orange Polenta Cake

I love this cake. It’s fresh, light and zingy – and very quick to make. It’s one of those classic “wet ingredients -> dry ingredients -> combine and bake” recipes which busts the myth that vegan baking needs to be fiddly and precise, or that you need some kind of “egg replacer”. You’ll end up with a fluffy, rich, moist cake that goes very well with the floral notes of a cup of Earl Grey Rooiboss tea.

This is an adaptation of Nigella Lawson’s vegan lemon polenta cake, with Blood Oranges instead of lemons.


  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC Fan) and line and lightly grease the sides of a 20cm springform cake tin. Combine the dry ingredients (ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, bicarb and salt) in a large bowl and mix well with a fork.
  2. Combine the oil, sugar, blood orange zest and yoghurt in a bowl and beat until fully mixed.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Pour the mix into the prepared tin, and give it a gentle shake to flatted it out.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, until a sharp knife comes out clean. As soon as the cake goes into the oven, make the syrup:
  6. Put the icing sugar into a small saucepan and add 75ml of blood orange juice from your zested oranges. Heat, whisking gently to beat out any lumps, until the sugar’s dissolved into the juice, and then pour into a little jug or cup to cool.
  7. When the cake’s cooked, transfer it to a wire rack and, with your cake tester, prick it all over to help the syrup run down into the cake. Pour or spoon the syrup over, trying to be patient, so the syrup doesn’t just make a large pond on top.
  8. Leave the cake, drenched with its syrup, to cool and, before unclipping, run a slim palette knife round the edges to help dislodge it where the syrup has stuck it to the tin. If you don’t feel confident of getting the cake off the base in one piece, don’t worry.


150g ground almonds
150g fine polenta (not instant)
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (gluten-free if necessary)
¼ tsp fine sea salt
100ml light olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
200g caster sugar
2 blood oranges, at room temperature
250ml almond-milk plain soy yogurt, at room temperature
75g icing sugar