Regardless of the weather outside, the first few days of September each year find me in the kitchen, surrounded by ingredients to herald the warm days ahead (I’m impatient!). Lemons are the epitome of Spring / Summer cooking for me and a key ingredient – a touch of lemon juice and zest enlivens almost any dish.
Baking with polenta (corn meal) gives cakes a unique texture – almost a bit gritty, and in the right situations I absolutely love it. I’ve had fantastic savoury tarts where the shortcrust pastry is made with polenta, and its use in this cake gives a crumb that’s dense but not stodgy in the mouth.
Just make sure to grease your cake tins well if using intricate shapes like I have with these fluted bundt tins. Alternately, bake this as one whole cake in a 22cm round cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper.
Lemon Polenta Cake
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 20-25 minutes, plus cooling
Makes: 4 individual small cakes
You will need 4 x individual fluted bundt tins, or 1 x 22cm round cake tin.
150g unsalted butter, at room temp
100g caster sugar
2 large, free-range eggs
1 lemon, zest and juice
90g instant (fine) polenta
180g almond meal
40g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
300g icing sugar
2-3 tbs. lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
50g caster sugar
Pre-heat oven to 160C. Grease cake tins with melted butter or canola spray, or alternately grease and line a 22cm cake tin.
To make the cake, place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high for 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down after each addition, and continue to whisk. In a separate bowl, sieve together flour and baking powder, and then fold into the butter mixture with a flexible spatula. Follow with lemon juice and zest, and then the almond meal and polenta.
Gently spoon cake batter between prepared moulds to ¾ full, smoothing the top down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20-25 minutes for individual moulds, or 40-50 minutes for an entire cake. The edges will be slightly golden and a skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean when the cake is cooked. Remove from oven when finished, cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then turn cakes out to cool fully.
To make the icing, rub caster sugar and lemon zest together until the mixture resembles damp sand, and set aside. Sieve icing sugar into a small bowl and stir in enough lemon juice to form a thin paste, generally about 2 tbs. juice. Add extra icing sugar or lemon juice to adjust the consistency if required. Gently drizzle the icing across cooled cakes, sprinkle with sugared zest and leave to set for 30 minutes.
Best consumed on the day of baking, or store in a sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
Desserts photographed with Miranda Kerr and Candy collection, available here.
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