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.