Lynda Balslev: All-day cake
If you are looking for a cake that you can eat for breakfast, with tea, as a snack or dessert, this is the cake for you. And it also happens to be gluten-free. This lemon polenta cake is moist with olive oil and drenched in lemony syrup. The result is a moist and dense cake, bursting with citrus and with a nutty, toothsome texture, thanks to the polenta and almond meal. It’s also not an overly sweet cake, which may lead you to munch on it all day long. For the record, no one will judge you for that.
The only tricky issue is that this cake actually tastes better the day after baking, once the flavor and texture have been allowed to develop. So the challenge, if you can bear it, is to wrap the cake tightly in plastic and let it stand at room temperature overnight (perhaps out of sight). Of course, it’s highly acceptable to have a nibble or two when it’s right out of the oven. After all, you’re the chef, and it’s always good practice to taste and inspect your results.
This cake keeps well and can last up to four days at room temperature, which really is moot, because it’s also positively addicting, so chances are, once you begin eating it, you won’t be able to stop.
Lemon Almond Polenta Cake
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes, plus cooling time
Yield: Makes 1 (8- or 9-inch) cake
1 1/2 cups almond meal (flour)
1 cup polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8- or 9-inch spring-form pan and line with parchment.
Combine the almond meal, polenta, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to blend.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light in color, about 2 minutes. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice, zest and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine without over-mixing.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Transfer to the oven and bake until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. If the cake begins to brown on top before finished baking, loosely cover with foil.
While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat.
Transfer the cake from the oven to a wire rack. Brush the top with the syrup and cool 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and brush the cake on the sides with the syrup. Cool completely.
Serve as-is or with a dusting of powdered sugar and/or candied lemon peel. To store, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to four days or freeze for up to one month.
Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area.
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