Every now and then Erik hosts a committee meeting for our choir. He has signed up to be the Secretary for the choir and when he is the host I feel honour bound to bake something, however, I’d just like to point out that this is not a tradition and it will not be happening every time.
All said and done I do have to take into consideration that one of the members of the committee is a celiac sufferer, so something gluten free is called for. Now I’ve had gluten free lemon drizzle cake and it was nice but a bit rubble-like. Just because someone has a condition I’d like to offer him something nice, rather than increase their suffering with cake-less cake!
The basis of this recipe is from the lovely Nigella, I found it on her website. I am making mine as 12 individual cakes, rather than her large cake and I am candying some lemons to make a very strong lemon favoured syrup.
To make My Gluten Free Lemon Polenta Cake You Will Need
- 2 Small Lemons
- 125g Sugar
- 125ml Water
Slice up two small lemons and hoof out the pips. In a non stick saucepan add the sugar and an equal amount of water. Put your pan onto the heat and gently warm it up to dissolve the sugar.
The lemons are added to the sugar syrup and gently simmered for an hour. Once the lemons have had an hour strain them off and retain the syrup, you will need it later. Spread out your candied lemons to dry on a cooling rack.
For The Cake
- 200g Unsalted Butter – Soft
- 100g Fine Polenta – See note below
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 200g Ground Almonds
- 1.5 Tsp Baking Powder – See note below
- 3 Large Eggs
- Zest of 2 Lemons (Juice required for topping)
For this recipe I have used very fine Polenta. This is corn meal, ground corn. Traditionally when making polenta as a side dish you use a gritty yellow coarse grain. You can use it in this recipe but it will give a rubble-like texture that some people find enchanting… I hate it! So I am using corn milled to a fine flour, this is not quite as fine as the cornflour that you would use in thickening a sauce but you don’t get the rubble like texture. (USA readers this is not as fine as Cornstarch.)
Gluten Free Note
If you are Celiac you need to check your baking powder is gluten free. Flour is sometimes added to it to make it more free flowing. Just check what type of flour they have used, if any. If you were just trying to avoid gluten then you’d probably be fine with the tiny amount in any baking powder.
I am using individual loaf cases from Sainsburys, they are available from many supermarkets and Lakeland. If you wanted to make this as a cake then line a springform cake tin measuring 23cm wide.
Put the oven on at 170Fan/180C/350F/Gas 4
Cream together the butter and sugar. Creaming is just a little more than mixing, if you simply whisk the butter and sugar together you will get a heavy yellow paste. Keep whisking until it changes to a light creamy colour, and is also light and fluffy. You are incorporating air to make your finished cakes light and fluffy. By the magic of photography you can see how light it needs to get in the picture on the right.
In another bowl mix together the Ground Almonds, Polenta and Baking Powder. Add a big spoonful of this dry mix to the butter and sugar followed by an egg. Adding a little dry mix with the egg prevents the mix from splitting. Carry on with the spoonful of dry mix and an egg until you added all 3 eggs. Fold in the remaining dry mix along with the Lemon Zest.
Spoon into your baking cases, I used a half-cup measure to share them mixture out as equally as I could.
Bake for 25 mins, but do check towards the end of the cooking time you want them a warm golden shade rather than caught at the sides.
For The Syrup
- Juice of 2 Lemons
- Syrup from Candied Lemons
Whilst your cakes are cooking mix together the syrup from candying the Lemons earlier with the Lemon Juice.
Your candying syrup should be deep golden colour, try it before you mix in the Lemon Juice, if it is too dark it may be too bitter. If you have taken it too far then just add 125g Icing Sugar to the Lemon Juice to make your syrup – warm it up in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar.
Once cooked take the cakes out of the oven and place them on a cooling rack. Whilst they are still warm prick then all over with a cake tester or sterilise a darning needle.
Then spoon over a couple of desert spoons of the syrup and allow it to soak in. You could try a wooden cocktail stick but do not use a skewer as Nigella says this would be too destructive. You really do need to lat the cool down completely, the lack of gluten means they will just fall apart if you eat them warm.
I put out a whole pile of these for Erik’s committee meeting topped off with lemon wedges for those who wanted to sharpen up the taste. Each and every single one of them went missing without trace.