Thursday, March 22, 2012

Polenta

I enjoy baking as it's fun, it's not as difficult as people make out and your audience/victims mostly seem to appreciate it. I guess like most things, it's as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. To do it well of course takes years of experience and not just the occasional weekend forays that I dabble in. Serious patisserie is obviously a real skill, baking the occasional cake is not.

Anyway here is an incredibly simple and very tasty recipe which a colleague at work gave to me - thanks Margaret. She found it here.

The consistency you should aim for is very moist without being undercooked. It won't rise much - that's fine. I prepared it at the weekend.
 

Lemon Polenta Cake

6oz/175g unsalted butter, softened
8oz/225g caster sugar
7oz/200g ground almonds
3 large eggs
Zest of 4 whole lemons and juice of 1
4oz/115g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C/gas mark 3. Line an 8” (20cm) tin with baking parchment.
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz to a smooth batter.

Spoon into the lined tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer pushed into the centre comes out with no uncooked batter on it. Cool in the tin.


Observations
  • Just beat everything together in a large bowl if you don't have a food processor but make sure the batter is smooth (give it some elbow!)
  • Reducing your oven temperature by 10% if using a fan oven seems to be the general rule
  • It took slightly longer than 45-50 minutes to get a nice golden top and was still moist
  • Do observe the skewer guideline and keep cooking 'til you're sure it's ready
  • Use polenta flour/meal - not the ready made stuff, and if you have a choice, buy the finest grade you can get. If your polenta is too coarse you notice it in the end result although it's still damn tasty
  • Next time I think I will sprinkle lots of flaked almonds on the top (about 50g) before putting it in the oven. I think a nice topping of toasted almonds would work well with this
  • I'd also like to play around with quantities next time and try to make it more lemony and slightly less sweet - that's just my personal taste though

Polenta is a funny ingredient - I don't really like it in its savoury form and I've never used it in baking. A lot of my baking involves trying recipes/ingredients that are unfamiliar to me (rum, raisin and prune icecream anyone?) because I'm interested to see how they turn out. Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked (that's a line from an INXS song if you're wondering but is applicable to so many situations that I tend to use it a lot).

I think you could decorate the top with almost anything to give it more eye-appeal or just go with a dusting of icing sugar like the picture.
I should've taken a photo of mine but I ate most of it before I thought of doing that.

2 comments:

nursemyra said...

That's a helluva lot of zest!

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: You're probably used to bigger lemons down under.