Gluten-free Mandarin, Polenta & Coconut Cakes

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Prep 20min (+ 30-60min simmering, cooling and 20min standing time)Bake 15-18minMakes 12

These cakes are a play on the original (and wonderful) Middle Eastern Orange Cake from the one and only Elizabeth David. Making use of seasonal mandarins and with the addition of coconut and polenta, this version is also flourless and gluten-free.


2 large mandarins (about 110g)

Melted butter, to grease

100g (1 cup) almond meal

95g (½ cup) instant polenta

45g (½ cup) desiccated coconut

½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder

3 eggs, at room temperature

165g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

1½ teaspoons natural vanilla extract or essence

Mandarin icing

250g (2 cups) pure icing (confectioners') sugar

1½–2 tablespoons mandarin juice

  1. Put the whole mandarins in a small saucepan, cover with water and set over high heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30–60 minutes, or until very soft when tested with a skewer. (You may need to place a small saucer over the mandarins to keep them submerged.) Remove the mandarins from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush a 12-hole 80ml (⅓ cup) capacity silicone or metal muffin tin with melted butter to grease. Quarter the mandarins and remove and discard the centre core and any seeds. Purée the skin and flesh in a small food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. Put the almond meal, polenta, coconut and baking powder in a medium bowl and mix well to combine.
  4. Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk on high speed until very thick and pale and a ribbon trail forms when the whisk is lifted (about 3–4 minutes).
  5. Add the mandarin purée to the egg mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold in until just combined. Add the polenta mixture and fold together until combined. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin holes (you can pour it from a jug or use a ladle).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–18 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the tin for 5 minutes. Use a palette knife to ease the cakes out and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  7. To make the Mandarin icing, sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the juice until the mixture is smooth and has a thick coating consistency, adding a little more juice if too thick. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  8. Spread the tops of the cooled cakes with the icing. Set aside for 20 minutes or until set.
Baker's Tips
  • These cakes will keep in an airtight container in a cool place (but not in the fridge) for up to 2 days.
Recipe and image from BakeClass by Anneka Manning (Murdoch Books).