I wanted something sweet but without too much butter for a change. I considered an olive oil cake but this was still too much fat post-Christmas. So I decided on a polenta cake with minimal fat and it relies on the beaten yolks and whisked egg white for its rise and lightness. In fact I was surprised just how light it is and it also doesn’t have the graininess that some polenta cakes seem to have.
The original recipe I used is one of Gino D’Acampo’s and can be found here. I adjusted it slightly and used Thyme instead of Rosemary to flavour the syrup, I think you could also easily replace the lemon with orange if you prefer that (it is very strongly flavoured). The cake also happens to be gluten-free, it’s always good to have some of these recipes in your repertoire as so many people seem to have gluten intolerance these days.
This is a quick and easy cake to make but can also be served with a spoonful of creme fraiche to make a simple dessert instead.
110g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
3 large free range eggs – separated
2 lemons - juice and zest
2tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
1tsp baking powder
Thyme drizzle syrup
100g caster sugar
2tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon – juice only
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. 20cm sponge tin, base lined with baking parchment and greased.
- Use an electric whisk to beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy then gradually add lemon juice whilst still beating.
- In a separate bowl with clean beaters whisk the egg whites until you reach the stiff peak stage.
- Mix together the polenta, almonds, olive oil, baking powder and lemon zest then add to the egg and sugar mixture and beat until creamy.
- Add a large dollop of egg white to the creamy batter and stir it through to loosen the mixture. Then add the rest of the egg white and fold gently in.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 mins (check after 25 mins and turn if not cooking evenly). Test with a wooden cocktail stick, it will come out cleanly when cooked.
- Bruise the thyme leaves in a mortar and pestle or bash them with the end of a rolling pin on a chopping board to release the oils. Scrape this into a small saucepan with the water, sugar and lemon. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, simmer very gently for 5 minutes then put aside somewhere warm until cake is out of the oven.
- Remove baked cake from oven and transfer to a wire tray immediately. Prick all over with a cocktail stick. Spoon the sieved syrup all over the surface of the cake so it soaks down into the holes. Allow to cool a little before cutting, may be eaten warm or cold.
This is a great cake. It’s big, light, tastes great and the calories are mainly to be found in the filling and icing – the cake itself is not going to sit too heavily on the waistline. In an attempt to limit the calories I used quark in the icing as a substitute for cream cheese or double cream. The filling though, is a lemon beurre mousselline, which is creamy and delicious but unavoidably calorific.
Lemon Chiffon Cake Recipe
Makes 8 generous slices
100g plain flour
80g caster suger
50ml sunflower oil
25ml lemon juice
3 large free range eggs separated
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp lemon extract (optional)
zest of a large lemon
7″ (18cm) non-stick, loose-bottomed ungreased high-sided cake tin
oven temperature 170° C
- Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Put the egg yolks and 40g of the sugar into a separate bowl and whisk until pale and sticky. Whilst still whisking drizzle in the sunflower oil, then the water, then the lemon juice and lemon extract (if using). Sieve in the flour mixture and whisk again. Add the lemon zest and mix.
- With a clean whisk beat the egg whites, slowly add the remaining 40g sugar and continue to whisk until almost at the stiff peak phase. Add a small quantity of this to the egg and flour mixture, gently mix to loosen the batter. Add the remaining egg white in two batches gently folding until well combined.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and firmly holding either side of the tin lift the tin up and bring it down sharply on the table top a couple of times to try to settle the airy mixture and bash out any big air bubbles.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40 - 45 mins or until the suface is a golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly.
- Remove from oven and leave the tin upside down on a wire tray to cool completely before removing the cake. Leaving it upside-down prevents the cake collapsing on itself (that’s the theory anyway). You might have to run a pallette knife around the the edge of the tin to get the cake out.
The un-iced cake contains approx.1311 calories, 164 calories per slice.
To finish the cake:
Slice the cake horizontally across the middle, add your preferred filling then ice the outside. The cake has a tendency to have a loose crumb on the surface so whatever icing you use it needs to be creamy and easy to spread to prevent the surface breaking up and leaving flecks in the icing.
The recipes for the lemon beurre mousseline filling I used (also known as cooked buttercream) and the icing are on a separate post that I’ll put up shortly. You can of course use any of your own favourite icing or fruit fillings.
This is my first attempt at a Battenburg cake. One of my Christmas presents was a special cake tin with removable dividers to make the baking of the Battenburg easier. It’s still pretty tricky – I think the secret is to pipe the cake mixture into each of the 4 oblong slots as it was difficult to get it evenly spread just spooning the mixture in.
Due to the family anathema to apricot jam I had to use sieved strawberry jam to glue the sections together so the colour was a bit more pronounced than I would have liked. I’m not keen on the colour pink so I forsook the traditional pink and yellow colour combo and chose yellow and green instead.
Note – adding green food colouring to a basic cake mixture (which is naturally yellow from the egg yolk) does leave you with uncooked cake mixture that is olive in colour. Do not add more green food colouring – after baking the cake crumb does end up a nice light fresh green colour. Honestly it does.
I used white marzipan for the cake overcoat and made a neat little pattern along the top by forming a ‘fin’ of marzipan the length of the cake by squishing edges together. Then using scissors I made angled snips towards the cake along the raised ‘fin’ at equal intervals. Then push each alternate snipped piece sideways towards the cake, right then left. Simple but effective.
A homemade Battenburg tastes far superior to the supermarket offerings and it is fun to style it according to personal preference. This homemade cake persuaded one family member to try marzipan…and they now like it!
I didn’t have time to make a ‘proper’ cake in the rush before Christmas but I WANTED SOME CAKE! You know how it gets sometimes. So I made this. Just use your favourite chocolate cake recipe and bake in a Swiss Roll Tin. Then I used a set of size-graduated star shaped cookie cutters to cut out cake stars. I glued them together with a runny chocolate icing and drizzled the rest over the top.
Stick a candle in top and ta-daaaaaaa. Quick chocolately Christmas Tree cake.