A few years ago I went round to a friend’s house for lunch. She cooked the most amazing seafood pasta, which was served with a fresh garden salad, garlic bread and a crisp white wine. There was no way she could top such a superb dish, or so I thought!
I didn’t expect dessert (I don’t like to get my hopes up) so was pleasantly surprised when a large slab of honey polenta cake appeared before me. It was moist, golden and rich with sweet, sticky honey. A few scattered raspberries and a drizzle of cream swiftly transported me to heaven.
Sadly I haven’t had polenta cake since. I’m not sure why? It doesn’t seem to appear too often on restaurant and cafe menus, and whenever I buy polenta it is to make one of my two favourite comfort dishes; Polenta with Peas, Pancetta and Parmesan or Bush Spiced Polenta with Baked Beetroot and a Fennel Salad. Today I decided that it was high-time to try and bake a polenta cake.
Searching the web I found this recipe for Swirly Lemon Drizzle Fingers and liked the sound of Jane Hornby’s recipe. Although I didn’t have quite enough lemons I thought a lime would be a tasty addition so changed the recipe slightly. To be honest I can’t really taste the lime – but the green zest looks quite pretty.
The cake itself was quite simple to make and even though I hate having to cut parchment paper and fit it into baking dishes so there are no wrinkles I actually managed it without any major disasters or temper tantrums on my part (okay I had one small tantrum…but that’s it).
Overall I am pleased with the final result, however I am confused about the ‘swirls’ as there are no visible swirls in my cake. The places where I added the lemon curd are very, very moist, which has caused the cake to break away in some places,resulting in uneven slices. I do love lemon curd and it is a nice touch but if I make the cake again I may halve the amount called for.
The real triumph for me is that I managed to get the cake out of the baking dish and onto the cooling rack, and then onto a cutting board without it breaking apart or falling on the floor. RESULT!
Polenta does give this cake a bit more ‘bite’ and a moreishness which is not good for my waistline. If you’ve not tried baking with polenta – give it a try!
Here is the recipe.
200g butter, well softened plus extra
200g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
100g fine polenta (cornmeal)
140g self-raising flour
zest of 3 lemons (I used 2 lemons and 1 lime)
For the Swirl and Drizzle
4 Tablespoons lemon curd
5 Tablespoons golden or white caster sugar
zest and juice 1 lemon
Heat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan Assisted / 350°F / Gas Mark 4 and make sure there’s a shelf ready in the middle of the oven
Butter a baking tin or small roasting tin approximately 20cm X 30cm and cut out a sheet of wax / parchment or baking paper just slightly larger than the tray. Push it in and smooth it out with your fingers so it sticks to the butter. Snip into the corners with some scissors to get the paper to lie neatly, with no creases or wrinkles
Put all the cake ingredients along with a pinch of salt into a large bowl and use electric beaters to beat until creamy and smooth. (Note: I don’t have electric beaters so I just a fork and the power of AC/DC at full volume)
Scoop the batter into the tin and level the top (Note: I found this challenging as the batter was quite sticky)
Spoon the lemon curd over the batter in thick stripes and use the handle of the spoon to swirl the curd into the cake – don’t do it too much or you won’t see the swirls once it’s cooked (Note: I didn’t do it too much and I still didn’t really see the swirls)
Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden and risen. It should have shrunk away from the sides of the baking tin ever-so-slightly and feel springy. Don’t open the oven before 30-minutes is up
Leave the cake in the tin for 10-minutes or until just cool enough to handle. Carefully lift out of the tin and place on a cooling rack set over a tray, a sheet pf wax paper, or something that will catch drips of drizzle
To Make the Drizzle:
Mix 4 Tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice together (Note: The recipe doesn’t suggest heating it but I did as I thought it would help the sugar dissolve. I just added the sugar and juice to a saucepan and heated in gently for a few minutes)
Spoon drizzle over the cake
Toss some lemon zest with the final Tablespoon of sugar and scatter over the top
Let the cake cool completely
Lift onto a board and peel away the sides of the baking paper (Note: I did this step before adding the drizzle)
Cut the cake into fingers or sqaures
They will keep in an airtight container for 3-days
Ingredients at the ready
Cutting the wax paper to fit was not as stressful as I thought it would be
Creaming the butter and sugar
At this stage I was wishing for some electric beaters
Zesting! I added some to the batter as well as reserving some to scatter on top
Attempting to smooth it all out
Juice some lemons (and a lime) to make the drizzle
Hmmm…swirls or lemony-sweet crevices?
Nice with a cuppa