If you love the flavour of lemons, you have got to love this cake. Nigella claims that one of her ‘can’t live without’ ingredients is the zesty lemon. I couldn’t agree with her more. When I saw that polenta was being used in a dessert, I was like ‘wha? maybe this is yet another Nigella’s eccentric combination of flavours.’ But with some reading up, I learnt that Italians use polenta in making all kinds of desserts. And, oh my god was it yum or was it yum? The polenta, which is nothing but essentially a corn meal, takes in the flavour of lemons so well and throws it right back at you in an almost, jaw aching, tangy albeit comforting sweetness.
For the Cake
- 100 g polenta
- 200 g almond meal
- 200 g unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Zest of one big lemon (or 2 small ones)
For the lemon syrup
- Juice of the grated lemon
- 125 g icing sugar
- Preheat your oven at 180 C. You will need a round 23 cm cake tin that is lined with parchment paper at the bottom and greased with butter around.
- Mix polenta, almond meal and baking powder in a bowl together. Now, this is your dry ingredients.
- Blend together the softened butter and sugar until light and creamy. Throw in some of that dry ingredients into the butter and blend for a further minute. Crack an egg into the mixture. Blend again for a minute or two. Tip in some of the dry ingredients again. Continue alternating between the eggs and the dry ingredients till they are done.
- What you should look for is essentially, a pale, yellowy, thick-ish batter.
- Now, add the grated lemon zest into the batter and give it one final fold.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake has browned beautifully.
- While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup by dissolving the icing sugar into the lemon juice. Boil the mixture until there is no trace of sugar in the juice and it reaches a syrupy consistency.
- When the cake is done, and is still hot, drill the cake with holes – Nigella, uses a spaghetti to do this. I didn’t have any, so I used toothpick, which worked fine too.
- Pour over the lemon syrup over the cake, in the middle, around the sides.
- In about an hour, the cake would’ve absorbed all the syrup wonderfully.
Note: What I did that you shouldn’t – Never flip a cake on to a plate while it’s still hot. The surface will stick to the plate causing some of that lovely, golden surface to tear away from the cake. And, I didn’t save a piece for my husband, greedy on my part? Quite 😛