“A perfect cake, this is simultaneously fluffy, rich and light. The polenta gives it a lovely crunchiness at the edges. It will stay soft and sticky for days, though it is unlikely it will last that long – it is especially delicious for breakfast with an espresso,” says food writer Letitia Clark.
“Blood oranges look the most striking with their scarlet flesh, but normal oranges will work just as well. A final note: this batter will look very runny when it is made, but do not be alarmed. It is all exactly as you planned…”
For the base:
1-2 blood oranges
100g demerara sugar
For the batter:
200ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt
Zest and juice of 4 small blood oranges
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
150g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
2. First, prepare the base of the cake. Wash the oranges and slice them into 2mm discs with a very sharp knife (you can use a mandoline or a slicer if you have them). I leave the rind on, as when cooked like this it becomes edible, but if you prefer you can remove it.
3. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, melt the demerara sugar with two tablespoons water until it has dissolved. Simmer for a few minutes until the syrup begins to caramelise (you should smell and see the colour change to a light amber). Pour your syrup over the bottom of the cake tin. Arrange the slices of blood orange, as many as will fit in one layer in a pleasing pattern, on top of the syrup.
4. To make the batter, whisk the oil, sugar, salt, ricotta, citrus juice and zest together in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-50 minutes, until golden and just set.
5. Allow the cake to cool for five minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the tin and invert onto a wire rack or serving plate. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Hardie Grant, priced £26. Available now.