Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lemon Polenta Cake

This is one of my favored cakes, therefore I have made it several times.  It was introduce to me by a friend of mine, Jhumpa although I believe it is one of Nigella Lawson's recipes.
Cake:
1 3/4 sticks (14 Tablespoons) soft unsalted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups almond meal/flour
3/4 cup fine polenta (I use House Autry Yellow Plain Cornmeal, Old Fashioned Stone Ground)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons (save the juice for the syrup)

Syrup:
Juice of 2 lemons
Heaping 1 cup confectioners' sugar

Special equipment: 
1 (9") springform pan

Line the bottom of your cake pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray.
Preheat oven to 350'.
With a mixer beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture.  Alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Beat in the lemon zest and spoon the mixture into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.  It may seem wobbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the pan.  Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack but leave in its pan.  

For the syrup:
Boiling together the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar in a small saucepan.  Once the confectioners' sugar has dissolved into the juice, you're done.  Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester.  Pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it our of its pan.

Make Ahead Note:
The cake can be baked up to 3 days aged and stored in airtight container in a cool place.  Will keep for total of 5-6 days.

Freeze Note:
The cake can be frozen on its lining paper as soon as cooled, wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil, for up to 1 month.  Thaw for 3-4 hours at room temperature. 
Recipe source: http://www.nigella.com

My little addition to this recipe:  
Make an extra recipe of the syrup and when serving make a puddle on the plate the lay the cake on top.
Frost the top of the cake with Stabilized Whipped Cream, top with your choice of berries.  Store in the refrigerator.  

Stabilized Whipped Cream:
You can make  this whipped topping ahead of time and it won't separate or go runny!  The vanilla pudding adds an extra richness to the flavor without being enough to know that its instant pudding.  You could use any flavor of instant pudding to change up the usual whipped cream flavors.
Ingredients:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon Jello Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix (dry)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar (or to taste)

Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Mix on low speed until ingredients are combined.
Mix on high speed until soft peaks form, scraping sides of bowl often. 
Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.