I love this Spiced apple, saffron and polenta cake with the flavour of the apples infused with wonderful heady spices of cinnamon, cardamom and star anise and tainted with the golden colour of saffron. The polenta and almond meal base is moist and delicate making it a wonderful cake for all seasons.
Preheat the oven to 180c
Place all the spices into a large pot with the sugar, water, orange blossom and lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil over a moderate temperature.
Peel, core and slice the apples and add these to the pot. Bring the liquid back to the boil, reduce the syrup to a simmer with the apples and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the apples to sit in the syrup until cool.
Meanwhile beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy, add in the orange, lemon juice and olive oil and beat until combined.
Mix the flour with the polenta, almond meal and the baking powder. Gradually add this to the eggs and sugar combining with a spoon until a smooth batter.
Line a 24cm spring form tin with baking paper and scatter 3/4 of the apples into the base of the tin. Pour over the batter and spread evenly to cover the apples. Bake the cake for 45 – 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pierce the top with a skewer a couple of times and spoon over some of the syrup. Let the cake cool completely before removing from the tin.
Remove the remainder of the apples from the syrup and bring the syrup back to the boil until slightly reduced.
Pour this over the remaining apples and then serve these as garnish with the cake.
You can add a dollop of fresh cream or thick natural yoghurt, although the cake itself with the apples is delicious on its own.