'As the Season Turns' is a podcast created by Ffern and presented by the nature writer and author of the Seasonal Almanac Lia Leendertz. Each episode, released on the first of every month, is a guide to what to look out for in the month ahead - from the sky above to the land below.
February is the second in the series. For this month we explore the Romani name for February, why it is the time for plans and new beginnings, the blue tit’s mating rituals, the migration of the toad and the moons that will grace our night sky. Each of the monthly chapters in Lia’s almanac end with a folk song - for February Lia brings one to life, singing a traditional shanty.
A Recipe for Blood Orange Polenta Drizzle Cake
A sunny cake for a gloomy time of year making use of the fleeting blood orange crop. Catch it while you can (though this will work with naval oranges - or indeed any citrus - the rest of the year).
For the cake
175g caster sugar
4 large eggs
325g fine semolina
200g plain flour
225ml olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of 5 blood oranges and juice of 2
Drizzle, icing and topping
Juice of 3 blood oranges
1 1/2 tablespoons orange flower water
About 4 tablespoons icing sugar
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and oil a 23cm cake tin and line with baking parchment. Beat the eggs and sugar together, then add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into the cake tin, smooth down, and bake for between 30-40 minutes, or until it is well risen and golden brown and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. While it is baking prepare the syrup by mixing the juice of two of the oranges plus the flower water with 2 tablespoons icing sugar. When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it in its tin and prick it all over with the cocktail stick. Slowly pour over the syrup and leave to cool. Remove from the tin. Make a thin icing by sifting 2 tablespoons icing sugar into the juice of the final orange plus a little water if needed. Drizzle it over the cake then scatter over the pistachios, and serve.