“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…”

Orange cake recipe (Matt Russell/PA)
Orange cake recipe (Matt Russell/PA)
Orange cake recipe (Matt Russell/PA)
Print Recipe
Nutrition Facts
Blood orange cake with ricotta, polenta and olive oil
Amount Per Serving
Calories 462 Calories from Fat 225
% Daily Value*
Fat 25g38%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 48mg2%
Potassium 210mg6%
Carbohydrates 53g18%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 31g34%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 245IU5%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 114mg11%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Blood orange cake with ricotta, polenta and olive oil

A change from a standard drizzle cake
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Cooling time5 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Servings: 10
Calories: 462kcal
Author: Letitia Clark


  • 20cm cake tin
  • Mandoline or sharp knife
  • Small saucepan
  • Large mixing bowl


For the base

  • 2 blood oranges
  • 100 g demerara sugar

For the batter

  • 200 ml olive oil plus extra for greasing
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 250 g ricotta
  • 4 small blood oranges zest and juice
  • 1 large lemon zest and juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g polenta
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder


  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 245IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 1mg

Bitter Honey by Letitia Clark, photography by Matt Russell, is published by Hardie Grant, priced £26.

Food writer Letitia Clark: ‘Life is full of sweet and sour’

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