Persimmon Orange Polenta Cake

Earlier today I shared an image of this cake on Instagram and spoke of my dad, who I associate with citrus and the color orange. Baking this cake and taking these images reminded me of him. For years we didn't speak because of what I thought then was him not caring about us, but the truth is, he just didn't know how to open up. As I've gotten older I realize that he has a very big heart, that he hurts easily also...Just like me. 

I'm going home to South Africa in December after eight years away and I can't wait to just sit and talk with him. Maybe I'll make this cake, since I know he loves simple cakes with just a bit of powdered sugar on top. The recipe is quite easy and was adapted from my very favorite Nigella recipe, I hope you will give it a try and let me know what you think about the inclusion of persimmon. I imagine adding some ginger might give it an extra special kick as well. 



1 stick + 7 tablespoons softened butter

1 cup granulated sugar

2 cups almond flour

1 1/4 cup finely ground polenta

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup unripe persimmon, grated 

1 large orange (zest + juice divided)

3/4 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8' round baking tin with baking paper.

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment in place, cream butter and sugar until fluffy (5 minutes on medium speed). 

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together almond meal, polenta and baking powder. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, then crack one egg into the batter and mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by another egg. Repeat this process until eggs and almond flour mixture are combined. 

3. Stir in persimmon and orange zest. Pour batter into the prepared baking tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the side. I like to test with a skewer for doneness. Sometimes I bake for 10 minutes more but loosely tent some foil over the cake to ensure that it does not brown too much. This cake should not be overbaked since it is quite moist.

4. Remove cake from oven and let it cool in the cake tin while you prepare the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice and powdered sugar over medium heat. Stir and heat until the syrup is no longer grainy and clear. Use a tablespoon or pastry brush to soak the cake with this syrup.

5. Remove cake from tin and dust with more powdered sugar before serving. 

Serves 8 - 10, Keeps for up to 3 days in an airtight container but best to keep it in the fridge.