This lovely cake represents my first successful foray into gluten-free baking. My daughter and I attempted a birthday cake for a friend earlier this year which yielded dubious results. Now I realize the error, and on the opposite side of the coin, what it takes for successful gluten-free baking (and this theory also applies to successful vegetarian and vegan cooking): don’t strive for an exact replica of your favorite food containing gluten, meat or dairy. Rather embrace recipes and foods that are naturally gluten-free or meat/dairy-free.
This Lemon Polenta Cake doesn’t attempt to be a light, fluffy chiffon layer cake. It is a dense, earthy cake with the slightly gritty polenta and the nuttiness of the almond meal. These two ingredients are showcased – the recipe in no way attempts to transform them into something which they are not.
And that’s a typical mistake I see with vegetarian and vegan dishes. Can’t have pork bacon? Then eat some weird “fake-on” (FYI – that’s my word for fake bacon). Can’t have cheese? Have a lab-cultured cheese-like creation. There is a bounty of delicious and amazing vegetarian and vegan foods already existing in nature – fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, herbs, spices, pulses. Feast on those rather than on some not nearly as satisfying imitation product.
Give this delicious Lemon Polenta Cake a try. Not because it’s gluten-free, but because it is an amazingly delicious cake!
1 year ago: Shakshuka (eggs in spicy tomato sauce)
Lemon Polenta Cake
Note: If you don’t have or can’t find almond meal/flour, grind whole almonds or almond pieces in a food processor or Nutribullet until they make a fine powder (don’t overmix or can turn into almond butter). This cake lasts longer than most cakes: keeps for up to 6 days.
For the cake:
1 3/4 stick (200 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (200 grams) almond meal/flour
3/4 cup (100 grams) fine polenta/cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)
For the syrup:
Juice of 2 lemons
1 heaping cup (125 grams) powdered/icing sugar
Plain yogurt or créme fraîche
Fresh or frozen raspberries
Line the base of a 9″/23cm springform cake pan with parchment paper and grease its sides lightly with butter. Preheat the oven to 350º F (180º C).
For the cake, beat the butter and sugar until pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer. Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its pan.
For the syrup, boil together the lemon juice and powdered/icing sugar in a smallish saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved into the juice, you’re done. Prick the top of the cake all over with a toothpick, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its pan.
Cut cake into slices and serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few raspberries. (The cake can be baked up to 3 days ahead and stored in airtight container in a cool place. Will keep for total of 5 to 6 days. It can also be frozen on its lining paper as soon as cooled, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month. Thaw for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.)
Adapted from Nigella Lawson