Orange and lemon polenta cake

24th Apr 2020

Polenta…

Not something my palate or vocabulary is familiar with. I found a packet in my cupboard, a bit random – but in my pre-pandemic shopping days (PPSD), I was all for picking up ingredients I had never used for later culinary experimentation.

On my Facebook Food medics groups, somebody else had also made this ‘polenta’ discovery and had asked for suggestions on how to cook it. There were multiple suggestions but I think I got as far a lemon polenta cake before I stopped scrolling. An ardent foodie had shared the Nigella recipe for lemon polenta cake that looked absolutely mouthwatering, however I was suddenly curious to see if what other variations existed. So a few pages later I found a recipe from the BBC website that I would use; I think I was intrigued by what boiling a lemon might look like. Clearly a good way to spend a precious day off work.

Turns out that boiling whole lemons is neither a profound visual or aromatic event…

I ended up with two soft, hot squashy lemons that I chopped in half, removed pips from and rapidly placed into a Nutribullet container

The resulting splodge was then scraped into the stand mixer

boiled and pureed lemon

My husband thinks that the recipes I cook, have far too much sugar in them. I agree and for this reason I added 50g less to the cake mixture. I did not have anymore lemons so I used an orange to make the drizzle with 25g of sugar instead of 140 g (to be fair lemon juice is bitter!).

I left the final product to rest for a while because I had some other things to do and then cook lunch (chicken salad and mashed potatoes). All the time I was thinking, I cannot wait to eat that cake!!.

How do I describe it…

Lemony, very lemon, you are fully aware that there are two whole lemons in the cake. Bitter, there is a bitter edge but it’s not a bad bitter, it’s a there are two whole boiled lemons in this cake. Gritty, I know I’m eating a flourless polenta and almond cake and it a wonderful sensation. Sweet, the orange drizzle comes with the crust and adds the ‘excitement’. The best thing however is eating a mouthful with a blob of mascarpone. It is somehow the perfect accompaniment to this cake. It balances all of the other flavours in a very cool and democratic way. What else can I say, I LOVE this cake. I’m writing this post a day after baking it and I have so far ‘allowed’ myself one slice a day. I am not sure how long that will last…

Ingredients

2 lemons

140g butter, plus extra for greasing

3 eggs

250g golden caster sugar

200g ground almond

175g polenta or fine cornmeal

1 tsp gluten-free baking powder

Mascarpone, to serve

For the drizzle

140g golden caster sugar

Juice 1 lemon

Method

1. Grease 23 cm cake tin and heat oven to 180oC/160oC fan/gas 4. Put lemons in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, drain, pour over more, cold water, then simmer for 1 hour until the lemons are really soft, topping with more water if you need to. Drain the lemons well. When cool, halve them, remove the pips and blitz in a food processor to a puree.

2. Add all the other cake ingredients and carry on blitzing until you have a loose batter. Scrape the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 – 50 minutes until golden and starting to shrink away from the sides, while the cake bakes, make the drizzle by mixing the sugar with the lemon juice when the cake is ready, remove from the oven the drizzle and leave to cool a little while still warm, pour over the drizzle and leave to cool completely. Serve with mascarpone.

Reference: flourless lemon polenta drizzle cake