7 Nov 2013

orange polenta biscuits

 

It may come as a shock to you - it certainly was one for me - but lately I had lost my desire for cake. I didn't much feel like making it and I certainly didn't feel much like eating it.

There were attempts: I thought if I made a comforting old favourite, a pudding with a soft-as-a-cloud sponge topping over a squidge of summer berries, everything would be okay. Except after the first serve, warm from the oven, I put it in the fridge and forgot about it.

I thought if I tried a new recipe, I'd reawaken the tastebuds and thought processes. Only the jam-filled muffins turned out to be heavy and too big, and they sunk disastrously in the middle.

But one afternoon I was standing at the kitchen sink, mindlessly buttering savoy crackers and working my way thru their salty crunchy texture, when I realised: this is what I was craving! A hard crunchy biscuit. Something with bite, or maybe a shortbread, both hard and light. And maybe something citrussy? Orange or lemon-sharp shortbread?

After scouring my books and printouts, I found exactly what I was after, made with plenty of orange zest and the surprise ingredient: polenta. They looked plainish, but.

While making these was a lovely process - zesting and juicing the orange, adding the polenta and kneading the slightly sticky dough - the fun really began once they were in the oven. The raw dough smelt deliciously orangey, but as it baked (at a surprisingly high temperature), the house started to smell of - popcorn! Polenta is ground corn, I guess, but I wasn't expecting that. Did that mean the citrus notes were gone? No.

They turned out as hard as I'd hoped. Solid enough to, just for a moment, make you fear for your teeth. Good for tea dunking - a mug of bright Lady Grey is perfect, I have discovered. The polenta also gives the biscuits a pleasing grittiness, too.

And the eating? Well, let's just say I find it hard to stop at one. Or two.

Ah, baking! It's good to be back.

Orange polenta biscuits
Adapted from the Australian Women's Weekly 'Biscuits, brownies and biscotti' mini book. I halved the original and made about 18 biscuits. 
  • Cream 125 gms soft butter with 1/2 tspn vanilla, 100 gms icing sugar mixture, and the microplaned zest of two oranges, til well combined.
  • Stir thru 45 gms polenta, 185 gms plain flour, and about 1 tbspn orange juice (I say about because I measured out that much and then gave the orange half another squeeze over the dough).
  • Gently knead the dough to bring it together. Then shape it into a log and wrap tightly in clingwrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm (I left mine overnight).
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200 and prep some baking tins.
  • Cut the log into slices no more than 1 cm thick. Use a normal knife or a wavy vegetable cutter if you have one (you can see the gentle rippled effect in the photos - nice for a change).
  • Place on the trays and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and stand for a few minutes before cooling on wire racks.
 


14 comments:

  1. Nice one… I can just imagine the aroma!

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    1. hey lizzy, yes the popcorny smell was a real surprise, but very enticing!

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  2. So glad you're back E! I am slowly catching up on posts as I have been away. Hey. this one has a touch of Italian. Polenta is one of the food staples from my father's region in Italy, It is usually served with a rather oversized sausage which is boiled for hours called Cotechino.

    The polenta biscuits look very interesting, I love anything to do with Citrus and I believe it would definitely compliment the polenta. Ha...the popcorn aroma would have been quite interesting.

    Ooh...jam filled muffins, lemon shortbread. That would make this morning coffee a lot more enjoyable.

    Which reminds me. I don't know if you have ever seen the Great British Bake-off. The finale was amazing! You would have loved it E.

    The very last task was to prepare 3 sweets with creative presentation. My favourite was the stay at home mum who created a selection of sweet treats and presented them in a small tabletop glass cabinet with cascading vines and flowers I just know you would love this episode. :)


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    1. hello SB. nigella cooked a lemon polenta drizzle cake last week (on the teev) - if anythign could convince me back to cake, that one would be it! polenta is an unusual ingredient for me, but really works in these morish biscuits.
      and i never saw the bake off series - is it on a pay TV channel? i'm a free to air gal :-) but i have heard about it from some of the girls at work. bring back non-competitive tv cooking shows, i say.

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  3. Ooh, Lemon polenta cake...you are such a tease! hahahha!

    I absolutely love Nigella, my mum bought me a DVD of Nigellas Christmas a couple of years back, She takes you through every stage including decorating the tables etc. I must find that DVD. She really has been an inspiration for me.

    I really get drawn into her flavours. Her baked potatoes are incredible! The ones you boil, fry and then bake.

    It was my daughter who down-streamed the show from the internet and apparently it was the 2011 series finale and it has now expired from viewing.

    Though I have to admit, whilst searching for it, I can see what you mean by competitive cooking, It can take all the joy out of it, however this one show and the lady finalists and their creations were very lovely.

    Boun Appetito!

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    1. fried AND baked potatoes ... that sounds like nigella!

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  4. I find polenta to be amazing in baked cakes and cookies. These look wonderful e, so crunchy! There's a sweet biscuit here very similar in appearance, and I use to make crumb crusts, especially for cheesecakes. I'm trying these ones soon! Love the orange flavor.

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    1. oh paula, these would be perfect crushed up for a cheesecake base - definitely. though i think you'd need a hammer to break them, they are so wonderfullly hard!

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  5. Glad you got your mojo back for baked goods! I love the story of the whole process.

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    1. thank you leaf! not wanting to bake or eat cake is a strange sensation, i can tell you, so i'm glad i've got my mojo back too :-)

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  6. I think I may try these this afternoon after discovering an abundance of polenta!!

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    1. jeanie these don't use much polenta, but very little bit counts i guess! i hope you like them too - let me know.

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  7. Another one pinned for my collection - my Mum would love these I think.

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I've had to turn word-verification back on - the robot-spammers are loving my orange pudding too much at the moment! I hope you understand - and I hope you'll still leave a comment at Dig In. I love hearing your thoughts, knowing someone is reading, and will always reply. Unless you're a robot-spammer.