We are well into the Spanish and Italian citrus seasons now so what better excuse for a blast of colour and zest than food photography featuring a delicious Orange Polenta cake? A big slab of Mediterranean sunshine to brighten up winter days.
For a food photographer there is unique satisfaction in photographing food that you have made and then styled yourself. I only tasted polenta cake for the first time a few years ago and I love them and had considered making one for some time. I’d say my photography skills are better than my cooking skills and I haven’t had a lot of success with cakes in the past. But the first time I made this one in December, and each time since, it has been delicious and has been enthusiastically received.
After reading recipes from Nigella (too much butter for me but a very enticing description), Yottam Ottolenghi (uses puréed boiled oranges) and from the BBC Good Food site, I settled on my own combination of polenta, ground almonds, oranges, butter, eggs and sugar with just a little self-raising flour. It makes for a cake that’s filling but not too dense and with the grittiness of the polenta that Nigella waxes lyrical over.
The third time I made it coincided with brighter January afternoons and more light coming through the windows of my studio. So before anyone had chance to tuck in, I made a small natural light set and set to with my Hasselblad H1 and Phase One P25+ back.
I wanted a natural light look to the images with strong colour but with a darker indoor feel more fitted to the season rather than the light and airy al fresco mood associated with Mediterranean summer cooking. All of the post-production was accomplished solely in Capture One v8.1 using its comprehensive feature set and without need to use Photoshop or plug-ins.
Now did I tell you that I’ve also made a lot of Seville Orange Marmalade in recent weeks?