Thursday, 28 January 2010

Little bee and sweet melody: gluten-free orange and lemon polenta cake

They are several reasons why I love cooking.

It relaxes me- as long as I don't have to cook for a whole regiment too often- and it makes me happy. I love homemade food maybe more than food served in restaurants. Actually, a recent visit to the absolutely amazing Claridge's in London could prove me wrong ( if I was a rich girl, I would dine there every week).

So I was saying, homemade cook food is (to rare exceptions) the best.
Another reason why I love cooking is for the compliments. There is nothing better than being complimented when serving a made from scratch 3 course meal to an audience of hungry friends. And I don't tell you about the joy of seeing their faces when comes dessert. This really makes me happy.

But satisfying everyone is not always easy and requires preparation.

About 2 weeks ago, I was faced with the challenge to cook a gluten- free meal when 2 of our lovely friends came for dinner. Dessert was the tricky part. After a good week of research, I came up with the desire to bake a Gluten-free Orange and Honey Polenta Cake. A mix of different recipes using ingredients I love: honey and orange blossom water. I served this sweet treat with a homemade yogurt perfumed with northern African flavours.

The result put a smile on our faces: there wasn't much left of the cake at the end of the evening.

To make this Little Bee and Sweet Melody polenta cake you'll need:
Serves 6 to 8


220g of butter
220g of unrefined caster sugar
120g of almonds
3 large free range eggs
200g of polenta (organic is preferred)
1 lightly heaped tsp of baking powder
A zest + juice of a finely grated orange
A splash of orange blossom water

For the syrup
The juice of an orange
4 tbs of honey
The juice of 1 lemon
(2 tsp of sugar: optional)

Line the base of a nonstick, loose-bottomed cake tin (about 20cm in diameter) with a piece of baking parchment. Heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

In a food mixer, beat the butter with the sugar until combined and light.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly and add them to the butter and sugar mixture.
Add in the polenta and the baking powder; mix gently. Now add the orange zest, orange blossom water and the orange juice. Mix well until combined.

Transfer the cake mixture to the lines tin then smooth the surface.

Bake for about 30minutes or until the blade of a knife comes up clean from the cake. The cake should be of a nice golden colour.

In the meantime, make the syrup.
In a stainless-steel saucepan on a low heat, put the orange and lemon juices. Bring to the boil and add the honey. Keep boiling until the liquid has formed a thin syrup. If this doesn't happen after 5 minutes, add some caster sugar.

Now, the cake should be ready and still warm (in its tin). Spikes holes in it with a skewer and spoon over the hot syrup. Let it cool before taking it out of its tin.

Serve with greek yogurt.

Take a look at your guests' faces. They should be smiling at this point.


Inspired from Nigel Slater's Honey and polenta cake with elderflower and gooseberries.

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