‘Weekends are meant for baking especially during the winter months. Recipes can be adapted in many different ways to avoid gluten and to make life simpler especially if the cake is intended for sharing during a busy weekend.
Citrus season is abundant and at its peak here and some of those lemons weighing down the branches in our back gardens can be used to make this quick bake. This cake works well with oranges too and I have also made it with lime, substituting the ground almonds with coconut. The combination of lime and coconut is one of my favourites.
Buttermilk adds an incredible texture to anything that is baked and the cake crumb is lighter. This is a dense and moist cake and a small slice served with Greek yoghurt and slices of citrus also an incredible dessert.
For the lemon and ginger polenta cake you will need:
200g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cornflour
grated rind of 2 lemons
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
For the syrup, you will need:
150g icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
grated zest of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
a pinch of salt
You will also need: Baking paper, a non stick 23 cm cake dish with a loose bottom [I use Prestige] and some non stick cooking spray [I use Fry Light Butter Flavour]
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Prepare the cake tin with cooking spray and line the bottom of the tin.
Use an electric mixer and beat the butter with the caster sugar until the mixture appears white and fluffy. Add the buttermilk and carry on beating until the mixture is even.
In the meantime beat the eggs and keep aside.
In a large bowl mix the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cornflour and lemon zest. Add the vanilla. Mix it with a spoon until it appears even.
Add half the eggs to the butter mixture and after it blends in, still using the electric mixer, scrape the sides of the bowl then add half the polenta mix, then again the rest of the eggs, scrape the bowl using a spatula and once again when the mixture is even in appearance, add the rest of the polenta mixture and carry on folding in using a large metal spoon.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake dish and bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes.
In the meantime, make the lemon syrup by mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan on low heat. Keep stirring and once the sugar has dissolved, wait until you see the sign of the first bubble and remove from the heat immediately.
Remove the cake from the oven when it is done and leave prick it all over by using a tooth pick or very fine skewer. Pour the syrup gradually over the surface and once it is absorbed by the cake, keep pouring in small amounts until you have used up all the syrup. Preferably leave in the tin while you are doing all this and allow to cool.
I removed my cake from the tin and then poured the syrup, purely for demo reasons during our live tv show. [as you can see on the photos]
This week I visited my old friend Reuben at the newly refurbished La Branda Resort at the Riveria Hotel located at the very most northern point of the island. I spent a good few hours with Bing from Beijing who has been in Malta for the last 9 years while he planned out preparations for Chinese New Year. He not only cooked lunch for me but showed me how to carve vegetables and demonstrated a number of authentic Chinese dishes which I will be making on tv to mark the new year of the Dog.
And it takes him nearly 10 minutes to make a single flower carving for garnish!