This is really quite simple to make. It takes a little patience to cook and cool down but produces a totally satisfying deep crust crunch with a moreish moist centre and delicious polenta bite. I've used the spices here to brighten up the richness and add some oomph to the subtle, zesty clementine flavour.

Ingredients

  • Dry:
  • 225g polenta grain
  • 200g demerara sugar
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda, 'patted' level with your finger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Spice Blend: 2 teaspoon fennel seeds, 5 cloves, 5 green cardamom pods de-seeded, using the seeds only; 1tsp coriander seeds, 1tsp of freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • Wet:
  • 3 clementines
  • 250g soft ricotta cheese
  • 250ml water
  • 100g butter melted to liquid in a pan or 30 seconds in a microwave
  • 1 egg white, 30g, whisked up to 'stiff peaks'
  • 200g mascarpone, 2 passion-fruits, pulp and seeds; 1 tsp icing sugar, mixed together

Method

  • First the prep bit, turn your oven on to Gas Mark 3, 170°C, then lightly butter a (900g) 2lb loaf tin, line with greaseproof paper and butter again.
  • Grab a large mixing bowl, pop in all the dry ingredients, sieving in the baking powder and baking soda.
  • Grind the spices in a pestle and mortar or electric grinder.
  • Pop the cherries into your fresh spice blend, mix all about to coat them completely.
  • Then add them and any excess spice mix into the dry ingredients bowl, mix well to combine.
  • Grate the zest of the clementines into the same bowl and mix well again.
  • In a separate bowl, add the ricotta, give it a quick whisk, then add the water, melted butter, squeeze in the juice of the clementines and whisk again.
  • Now, grab a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and pour the contents of the liquid bowl into your dry ingredients bowl, stirring all the time. Mix the batter well, stirring, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl until you have a gloopy, unctuous mixture.
  • Then, carefully fold in the fluffy egg white and pour the batter into your lined tin.
  • Pop the loaf into your oven on a middle shelf and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes.
  • Take the tin out your oven, pop onto a wire rack. Allow the loaf to cool for 30 minutes then take it out and allow to cool completely.
  • Carefully tear away the greaseproof paper and store in a cake tin until you're ready. It keeps really well and you should get a good week out of it, or pop it into the freezer; it'll be fine for a couple of months in there.
  • Serve with a dollop of the passion-fruit mascarpone or a good layer of butter and your favourite cup of tea.