Hello the Interwebz!
After a lovely summer munching around Portugal, Ireland and Brussels (of course) my bank balance is very firmly in the red. To counter the euros spent on the many many pasteis de nata consumed in Lisbon and the (not quite so many) oysters in Ireland, I’ve had a ‘no eating out during September’ month. Sounds grim and felt even grimmer when the urge to eat out and drink a few blanches is certainly heightened in Brussels when the new ‘term’ starts back in. Given that my boyfriend and I had also decided to do a two week no-booze dry out at the same time (masochists) I needed something to perk me up. Preferably something sweet and not-very-good-for-me.
Voilà! Lady Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake!
I first made this gluten-free cake for a coeliac friend who was visiting a year ago. I had, in blissful ignorance, always linked the term gluten-free to crusty holier-than-thou health food. Fear not! With almost a full stick of butter and an enthusiastic amount of sugar this recipe falls decidedly into the ‘Proceed With Caution’ category of desserts. But no one eats dessert for the nutritional value, so hey.
I love this cake and turn a blind eye to it’s very nigellaesque calorie levels.
As a blogging newbie I managed to take a good few photos of the butter and sugar in the bowl (always the most fascinating part…) but no actual pictures of the cake out of its tin. This is doubly shameful as I made two cakes within ten days. Will do better next time!
Recipe (Nigella recommends that it serves 16 but she’s being uncharacteristically mean: 8. At a push)
for the cake
- 200 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
- 200 grams caster sugar
- 200 grams ground almonds
- 100 grams polenta
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (gluten free if required)
- 3 eggs
- zest of 2 lemons
for the syrup
- juice of 2 lemons (although I lemons vary quite a lot with the amount of juice they give- I always aim for a good half mug full of juice)
- 125 grams icing sugar
1. Grease the sides and base of a springform 23cm cake tin. Nigella recommends lining the base with greaseproof paper but I never have and it’s worked fine each time for me. Always look to cute extra faff if you’re a lazy baker like me.
2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
3. Beat the butter until pale and whipped in a largeish bowl. You can do this by electric whisk or,like me just use a wooden spoon. Not going to lie, it’s quite difficult especially as I have virtually no upper body strength (I speed it up a bit by making sure that the butter is nice and soft -try sitting on for five minutes or so. With the wrapper on, in aplastic bag obviously. Buttered botties is not a good look.
It should look a bit like this:
3. Measure out the polenta, baking powder and ground almonds. Mix together.
4. Add about a third of this mix to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Beat it in and then add an egg. Repeat until all polenta mixture and eggs are gone, beating all the while.
5. Beat in the lemon zest to your mix and then plop it all into the greased tin, ready for baking.
6. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes (Nigella recommends 40 but I have a tiny oven and find that between 30 and 35 minutes is enough). Don’t be alarmed with the darkness of the top bit of the cake. It’s not burnt (most of the time).
7. Remove the cake to a cooling rack whilst you make the syrup.
8.To make the syrup, boil together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until the icing sugar is dissolved and the liquid is lovely and glossy. The last time I made this I hadn’t realised that a wee bit of icing sugar had been left behind in its measuring bowl- I actually preferred the sharper tangyness with less sugar but adjust to your own taste.
9. Prick the cake all over. Nigella recommends using a ‘cake tester’ as a skewer would be too destructive. As it is, I have neither of those things in my verrrry petite cuisine so I just poke it roughshod with a fork. (The horror! The horror!)
10. Pour the syrup whilst it’s still warm all over making sure to cover it evenly. Let it cool.
11. Gorge. And pick out the pips which I evidently failed to do.