Although it's technically springtime and we've seen some signs of sunshine in recent days, today it's grey and windy here in south-west London and we need to bring a little bit of sunshine into our home! A couple of friends recommended I try Nigella's Lemon Polenta Cake - although to date on the blog I've been keen to work through different bakers (and have already featured a Nigella recipe) but am making an exception here as both waxed lyrical about this one. And then yesterday Nigella posted a Regram of this very same cake but suggesting that the butter could be replaced with olive oil to make a completely gluten-free and dairy-free which sealed the fate of this bake and here it is.
It's a very light cake and the real magic is the infusion of lemon syrup which soaks into the cake post-baking. The original recipe I looked at contained 200g butter, but as I mentioned, Nigella yesterday posted on Instagram suggesting that this could be replaced with 150ml light olive oil so I thought I'd make this switch. Although Nigella suggests baking for 40 mins, I checked mine after 35 mins and it was very much done by then so I'd keep an eye on it from 30 mins onwards.
I also read a few comments from people that their cake tended to drop in the middle when it comes out of the oven and this is to be expected due to the lack of gluten. However I found that mine didn't drop and kept good form - until I decided that I couldn't wait for it to be completely cool before removing it from the tin and then I put it on a non-flat plate and it did drop a little! But I can assure you it didn't affect the taste :) I love the yellow sun-shine colour of the inside and it's super-moist from all of the lemon syrup, but remains lovely and light, whilst the polenta adds a slight grittiness which gives it some added texture. This would be a great cake for afternoon tea or lunch with friends.
Lemon Polenta Cake
- 150ML LIGHT OLIVE OIL (YOU CAN USE 200G UNSALTED BUTTER AT ROOM TEMP IF YOU PREFER)
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 200G GROUND ALMONDS
- 100G POLENTA
- 1 ½ TSP BAKING POWDER (GLUTEN-FREE IF REQUIRED)
- 3 LARGE EGGS
- 2 LEMONS (ZEST FOR CAKE BATTER & JUICE FOR SYRUP)
- 125G ICING SUGAR
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
- Line the base of an 8 inch spring form cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter
- Put the olive oil and sugar into a mixer and beat together until light brown
- In a separate bowl, mix the almonds, polenta and baking powder
- Add a third of this to the mixer and beat until well-mixed then add 1 egg
- Repeat twice, ending with the final egg
- Add the lemon zest and beat until well-mixed
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tin
- Cook in the oven for around 35 mins until a skewer comes out clean-ish and the edges have shrunk away from the sides of the tin. My cake was well set when it came out of the oven but the middle may wobble slightly and that's okay. Leave the cake to cool on the side whilst you make the syrup
- Boil the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan until the icing sugar has dissolved
- Make little holes across the top of the cake with a cocktail stick and then pour the syrup all over the top - you may need to do this in bursts waiting for the syrup to sink in before you add more
- Leave to cool before taking it out of its tin. And enjoy!