Sunshine Cake


April 18, 2013 by Bloke In A Kitchen

Give this a try – it’s an absolute blinder!   Perfect on its’ own, or with a great big dollop of soft mascarpone cheese with a little honey stirred in.

It’s a recipe I’ve adapted (dare I say, improved) from a classic Italian polenta cake.  It’s a scrumptious, zesty, golden cake that’s perfect for, fingers crossed, lazy hazy Summer days.  With the orange syrup topping, it’s quite similar to our traditional Lemon Drizzle cake, but more sophisticated in taste and texture.

Sunshine Cake

It’s a really simple cake to prepare, and there’s quite a few cookery techniques such as measuring flour and oil, cracking eggs, zesting and juicing the oranges and lemons, so it’s a good one for children to help out with.

Oh, and it’ll keep well in an air-tight tin for a week or two.  As if its’ humanly possible to not devour a cake as good as this at one sitting!

TIP:  I’ve made it with both ground semolina and polenta.  If using polenta, it’s best after a few hours of being soaked in the orange syrup, otherwise the polenta is still just a little too ‘gritty’.



175g / 6oz self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

50g / 2oz polenta flour or ground semolina

225g / 8oz granulated sugar

225ml / 8fl oz mild olive oil (you don’t want a strong-tasting, or extra virgin olive oil for this, it’ll over-power the cake)

4 medium free range eggs, beaten

1 orange, finely grated zest and juice of.

1 lemon, finely grated zest and juice of.


Juice of 2 oranges

120g caster or granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3.  Grease and line a round, sprung cake tin.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, and add the polenta / ground semolina and sugar.  Mix well.

Make a hollow in the bowl, and pour in the olive oil.  Add the beaten eggs, and stir well with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth mixture.

Add the orange and lemon zest and juice, and stir well.  The mixture should be light, and drop softly from the spoon.  It may even seem a bit runny – don’t panic!

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth out, and place on top of a baking tray.

Bake for 60 minutes on the middle shelf.  It should be well risen, golden brown, shrunk from the sides and firm to the finger.

Let it rest and cool for 15 minutes, before gently transferring to a wire tray.

Whilst the cake is cooling, make the orange syrup.  Bring to boil the orange juice and sugar together, and then simmer for 5 minutes or so, until slightly reduced. Allow to cool, and then prick the cake all over with a wooden toothpick, before brushing the syrup all over the top of the cake.

If you can resist from tucking in, the cake’s taste and texture will improve after a few hours out of the oven, and once the orange syrup has soaked well into the cake.


2 thoughts on “Sunshine Cake

  1. Looks delicious! I’m a recent convert to the olive oil cake myself, and I’ve long been intrigued by the use of cornmeal in desserts. Thanks for the recipe!

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