Lemon Polenta Cake

 Gluten-free polenta cake

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
100g polenta
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
100ml water
2tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lemon – juice only

 Pre-heat oven to 180°C. 20cm sponge tin, base lined with baking parchment and greased.

  1. Use an electric whisk to beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy then gradually add lemon juice whilst still beating.
  2. In a separate bowl with clean beaters whisk the egg whites until you reach the stiff peak stage.
  3. Mix together the polenta, almonds, olive oil, baking powder and lemon zest then add to the egg and sugar mixture and beat until creamy.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.