Thursday, 3 April 2014

Wheat-free Polenta Cake with orange or lime icing

I have waited years to make polenta cake, but finally I decided I must do it - this week. 

First, I needed to find a fine textured instant polenta. I finally found it in Lidl, the trans-European chain with outlets in England and Italy. The brand is called "Italiamo: Polenta Istantanea" or "Cornmeal".  It bears the Italian flag, which seems auspicious. Its texture must be very fine.

Then I searched for a Piedmontese recipe for polenta cake, without success. The Piedmontese peasanty, or even their aristocrats do not seem to have used polenta, which is a staple in their diet, for cakes or desserts. So I made this one up. 

It results in a lovely sandwich cake when filled with plum jam and coated with orange or lime icing. It is quite heavy in weight, but very well risen, yellowish and delicious.  One of these cakes would last a family a weekend, since it is quite rich and nourishing.

175g unsalted butter
225g light brown caster sugar
3 eggs
100g Doves Farm self-raising, gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of boiling water
half a teaspoon of baking powder
150 g fine polenta or cornmeal (from Lidl)
2 tablespoons of xanthum gum (required by gluten free flours for reasons of texture)
plum jam for filling cake
fondant icing sugar
orange juice of one orange or lime

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease two sandwich tins. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and add the polenta with the sifted flour, xanthum gum and baking powder.  When mixed, add the boiling water until the texture is like that for a wheaten cake mix. Turn into the two baking tins.  Bake for 30-35 minutes in the oven. Cool on wire racks.  When cool, fill with plum jam and sandwich together. Mix a desert spoon of orange or lime juice with fondant icing sugar sufficient to make orange or lime icing. Spread icing on top of cake and allow to set.

Alison Bailey 2014

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