Lemon polenta cake

Lemon_Polenta_Cake

This is based on a Nigella Lawson recipe. As Nigella says, this is an Anglo-Italian crossover recipe. It’s basically an iced lemon drizzle cake made with polenta and ground almonds instead of wheat flour. I made it for my Art Class yesterday, and it seemed to be pretty popular. It’s also gluten-free provided you use gluten-free baking powder. This made 12 quite generous portions:

The cake:

  • olive oil for greasing the cake tin lining
  • 200g softened butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 100g fine polenta (or cornmeal)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder (gluten-free if required)
  • 3 large eggs
  • finely grated zest from 2 unwaxed lemons (reserve the juice (see below))

The syrup:

  • juice of 2 lemons (see above)
  • 125g icing sugar

The icing:

  • 250g mascarpone
  • 70g reduced fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia or similar)
  • 90g icing sugar
  • zest from another unwaxed lemon
  • lemon juice to taste
  • a few lemon segments (for decoration)

Line the bottom and sides of a cake tin with baking parchment (I used a rectangular tin about 18cm x 27cm), which I also brushed with olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Beat the butter, and when creamed, add the caster sugar (I used a hand held electric whisk).

Sift together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. Beat some of this into the butter/sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating with every addition.

Beat in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture (which should be quite stiff) into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until browned and cooked through (test with a fine skewer, if it comes out clean, then the cake is cooked). Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, leaving the cake in its tin.

Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved.

Prick the top of the cake all over with a large needle, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Make the icing by whisking together the mascarpone, the cream cheese and the icing sugar. Add a little lemon juice (to taste).

Turn out the cake. Spread the icing on top, and use a fork to make a close, lined pattern. Grate a little lemon zest over the icing, and cut the cake into squares.Decorate each square with a small piece of a lemon segment (use two or three segments in total).

I put each square in a muffin case, which I had ‘reshaped’ by folding around a suitably sized square plastic box (you could use a child’s wooden brick (clean it first!)).

 

 

Sage and onion cornbread

This recipe is adapted from one which appeared in the Guardian Cook supplement on 3 January 2015. It’s good warm, on its own with butter, or for mopping up soups and casseroles.

  • 110g plain wholemeal flourCornbread
  • 100g polenta (not instant polenta)
  • 4 tsps (heaped) baking powder
  • 70g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp chopped sage leaves
  • 1 bunch spring onions (thinly sliced)
  • 100g mature cheddar (finely grated)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 240ml milk
  • 120 ml olive oil (and a little more to grease the cake tin)

Line the base of a 20cm cake tin with silicone paper and paint the sides with olive oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C (Gas Mark 6).

Sift together the flour, polenta and baking powder. Stir in the breadcrumbs, onions, sage and cheese, until the mixture is evenly combined.

Beat together the eggs, flour and oil in a separate bowl.

Mix all the ingredients together, and spoon into the cake tin, levelling the top is necessary.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooked inside (if you insert a skewer and it comes out clean, it will be cooked).

Allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, or store in an airtight tin for later use. Freezes well.

 

 

Chocolate and red bean muffins

Chocolate_bean_muffins

This recipe is loosely based on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for Chocolate Bean Cake in Waitrose Kitchen magazine January 2015. The beans may seem like a strange ingredient, but as Hugh says “the Japanese do it all the time with lovely results”.

This recipe makes 10 small muffins:

  • 10 small muffin cases
  • 50ml light olive oil
  • 2/3rds of a can (400g) of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed – I’d already used the rest to make some spicy tuna salad)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 70g polenta (not instant polenta)
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 85g light soft brown sugar

Place the muffin cases in a muffin baking tin.

Heat the oven to 190C (Gas Mark 5).

Liquidise the oil, beans, eggs and vanilla essence.

Sieve together the polenta, cocoa, baking powder and sugar, into a large bowl.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and whisk the contents together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for about 15 minutes until cooked.