You can opt not to use the honey syrup, but it adds a lovely tart-sweetness that makes a huge difference. The cake itself is dense (in a good way), and not overly sweet which makes it particularly satisfying for breakfast or as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
Polenta citrus cake with Honey-citrus syrup
1 ½ c flour (preferably ½ whole wheat and ½ all purpose, but you can also use any sort of gluten-free blend as well)
1 c almond meal
1 c finely ground polenta or cornmeal
1 c finely chopped toasted almonds
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp orange zest
3 eggs, at room temperature
½ c pineapple or orange juice, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 whole almonds, toasted, for garnish
Honey-citrus syrup Ingredients
2 T lemon juice
2 T orange juice
2 T honey or maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch-diameter cake pan, and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (Don’t be tempted to skip the parchment—this cake tends to stick to the bottom of the pan.)
To make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, and polenta. Stir in the chopped almonds.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the orange zest and beat until incorporated. Add the eggs, orange juice, and vanilla and mix on low to combine, then on medium for 30 seconds until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture.
Spoon the batter in the cake pan, and smooth the top. Top the batter with the almonds, in a decorative pattern.
Bake the cake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until golden brown on the top. Meanwhile, make the honey syrup, if using. To make the honey syrup, combine the juices and honey until smooth. Set aside until the cake comes out of the oven.
Once golden, remove the cake from the oven, and poke it all over with a cake tester (toothpick will work, too). Brush the honey syrup over the cake while still in the pan. Allow the cake to absorb the syrup for 15 minutes. Serve.