I think that quince is a hugely underrated fruit, and I don’t understand why. Their flavour is so delicate, they make wonderful jams, delicious cakes, flavoursome soups, and even sweet and spicy main dishes. It can’t get more versatile than this.
This quince polenta cake brings together two very popular Romanian ingredients. I would say that polenta is part of our national identity, while quince is one of our favourite fruit in the Autumn and Winter months. The cake is moist and not too sweet, and is gluten and dairy free.
I use home made quince jam, and an orange syrup.
This is how you make it:
For the polenta cake:
200 g unsalted butter at room temperature
150-200 g caster sugar (see note in the method)
3 large eggs
200 g ground almonds
100 g fine polenta
25ml rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the quince jam:
75g caster sugar
50 ml honey
For the syrup:
Zest and juice from 2 oranges, slightly warmed in a pan
First start by greasing and lining a 18cm diameter springform cake tin or a bundt tin. Preheat the oven to 170C.
Make the jam: put all ingredients in a deep pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the fruit is very soft. You can mash them a bit, too. You know that it’s ready when they all bind together, and the syrup is thick. Set aside.
Make the cake: beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs one by one (it may look like the mixture is splitting, but don’t worry). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Note: if you like your cakes sweet, use 200g sugar.
Bringing it together: put the quince jam at the bottom of the cake tin and add the cake mixture on top. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
When the cake is ready, set aside to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn it on to a plate and using a long bamboo skewer, pierce the cake all over the surface, through the jam, pushing the skewer almost to the bottom of the cake. Pour the orange juice on top, using a table spoon and waiting for it to be absorbed after each addition. Leave the cake to cool but serve warm. You can also reheat the left over the next day at 140C for 5-6 minutes.