February 23, 2012


I decided I might take part in Dom’s February Random Recipe Challenge which involves choosing a page at random from a randomly chosen cookbook.


So I ran my hand along the cookbooks in my collection and picked out this book.

eat me

It’s a beautiful book full of gorgeous looking recipes but  I had never cooked from it before.  So I flipped the pages and it fell open at “orange polenta cookies”.  

Well, fancy that.  I didn’t know I owned a book with another recipe for these cookies.  Having had a disappointing result with the Jamie Oliver recipe, should I or shouldn’t I have another go ??

orange cookies5

My mum always said, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

My other half said “I don’t know why you keep making stuff like this, it never works”.

That did it.  The next time I had a day off work, the minute he was out of the front door I fetched my pinny !!

In actual fact, this recipe used roughly twice as much flour as polenta, whereas in Jamie’s recipe it was the other way round.  I decided to reduce the ratio of polenta even more to see what happened.  I also decided to use caster sugar instead of granulated and omit the vanilla extract stated in the recipe.

orange cookies1 orange cookies2 orange cookies3 orange cookies4

The butter was at room temperature but was still not very soft so I used a tip taken from a Lorraine Pascale book and grated it to soften it.  Because the quantities of butter and sugar were fairly small, I started out beating the mixture by hand but soon got fed up with that so put it into my Kenwood mixer.

The mixture turned out just the right consistency for biscuits, not too firm or sloppy.  They were easy to shape but it all got a bit messy, which is inevitable really.

orange cookies8They baked beautifully in the maximum time stated in the recipe.  What’s more important is that this time they were delicious.

They had a delicate orange flavour and were not too sweet, with a nice crunch.  There was a suggestion on the polenta packet to substitute some polenta for the flour in pastry or biscuit recipes to give them extra crunch and obviously it does work, if you get the ratio right.

orange cookies7I was very pleased about that.  If I was to serve them with the little chocolate pots I would make them about half this size and probably adjust the cooking time slightly.

orange cookies6 I would definitely make these again and certainly to accompany the little chocolate pots, or maybe ice-cream.

I then found another recipe using polenta for a cake…… marmalade polenta cake…..hmmmmm…..next time perhaps.

Here’s what I used for my version of orange polenta cookies.

85g unsalted butter

140g caster sugar

finely grated zest of 1 large orange

1 large egg

150g plain flour

45g polenta

1 tsp granulated sugar

Here’s what you do.

Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.  Preheat the oven to 170°C/160°fan.

Beat the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the orange zest and egg and beat again until smooth.

Add the flour and polenta and mix gently until combined.

Take small lumps of the dough, about the size of a walnut, and roll into a ball.  Space them out evenly on the baking sheets to allow for spreading.  Flatten slightly with the heel of your hand and sprinkle with the granulated sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and slightly browned at the edges.  Lift carefully from the trays and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18-20 cookies.


  1. I'm really enjoying the ideas Jean.

    This weekend I shall be trying the jumblefriut pie ...

  2. I think it was likely the polenta in your last batch that spoiled them. The modern 'quick cook' stuff is much improved by cooking for nearly as long as the old style slow cook polenta. Using a modern polenta and cooking according to the instructions is quite likely to result in something that tastes like vomit in my experience. I might do some experimenting with these using different sorts of flour - got my coeliac BIL arriving in a couple of months.

  3. Gaynor - I hope you enjoy it, good luck !!

    Susan - that pretty much describes the flavour undertones in the previous batch !! This is a recipe that would adapt well to gluten free ingredients I think.

  4. These sound delicious. Now I have some white mealie meal here which I use for all sorts of dishes. I buy it from the S.African shop. As far as I know it is pretty much the same as polenta, but made from white maize instead of yellow. Wonder if it would work with this recipe, guess there is only one way to find out! Diane

  5. well they look divine and i'm so glad you decided to take part... to hell with the horrid people... onwards and upward!

  6. They look great - I'm so glad you weren't put off by your previous experience. My mum used to say 'If at first you don't succeed, then go and make a cup of tea.' It's advice I've tried to stick to throughout my life - I may not have achieved much but I really like tea.

    1. Phil - tea therapy is a great favourite in this house too.

  7. There is really no such thing as an original recipe [except perhaps from Fersterin Bloomenill, and not many people will be using 'foams' in their home cooking!]... if you've changed anything in a recipe, you've done what Granny would've done before writing it in her recipe book [and some of those wouldn't have been changed at all, either... just written down as dictated] Once you've done that... recipe is yours, in my book, and you can publish it!

    The WV just came up as "forkethi uctert"... don't know wot uctert means... but forkethi must be the ethics/manners of eating with one hand... perhaps, thinking about it, the uctert bit is to do with trying to talk with your mouthful!

    And did Nick eat any of the 'they never work' biscuits?

    1. Tim, very true. That's the crux of the matter I think.

      And yes, Nick ate and enjoyed them and then said he would have baked them with less polenta in the first place...........grrrrrrr !!

  8. I love the look of the texture of these...They look perfect. My husband is a massive biscuit fan and asks me to make some every week...I'm always on the look out for new recipes and have a big bag of palenta in the baking cupboard...I know what I'll be making when he's finished the current batch of 57 I make...

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Debby, thanks for calling in. I'm sure your husband would love these - good luck with them.

  9. You have some lovely bakes on your blog...it's making me hungry looking at them all! :-)

    1. Laura, nice of you to stop and leave a comment, thank you.

  10. They are so pretty! I recently made my first polenta cake, also orange-flavoured, but the recipe was originally for lemons - I wonder would that work with these cookies too? Really interesting point also by Susan about the type of polenta used.

    1. Suzanne, a polenta cake with orange is in my mind to make next.
      Curiously, I used the exact same brand of polenta for these biscuits so I assume it's the ratio of flour to polenta that made the difference.
      I think lemon would be lovey, too.

  11. These look fantastic - perfectly golden and delicious

  12. They look lovely. I love polenta in baking!

    1. Thanks, after this success I am inspired to make something else with polenta......I was just looking at the orange drizzle cake in your latest post !!

  13. So glad they worked 2nd time around - hope your husband was suitably humbled. Love those quotes, I had a good giggle over them. Biscuits look lovely. I sometimes put a bit of polenta into a victoria sponge for a bit of added texture - it's always proved to be popular. I also have a great chocolate cake which is pure polenta - have been promising myself to make it again for ages.