One of life's great pleasures - tea and cake in the afternoon. This is the first slice from a cherry and almond polenta cake that I made today.
A couple of months ago I had a slice of lemon polenta cake in a café and loved it, so I looked at recipes online. I particularly wanted to find a cake that I could make for the next time my daughter in law visits, because she is wheat-intolerant, but most of the recipes either had wheat flour in them, or baking powder. Otherwise the recipes called for creaming margarine and sugar, which is a process I am not particularly keen on. In the end I decided to live dangerously and invent a recipe, and tried it out a little while ago. I made one large round cake in a 9 inch tin, and it looked enormous, but my husband and I had no trouble working through it over a few days.
This time I used the same quantities and made two cakes in loaf tins. Our daughter is at home at the moment, and she doesn't like cherries in cakes, so I made one with cherries and one without.
There is no weighing involved in this recipe. I use a small glass which holds a quarter of a pint as a measure - the same glass that I use for the muffins recipe.
If you measure out the ingredients in the order that I show in the list and pictures below you won't need to wash the glass out until you have finished.
You will need three separate bowls - a large one for the main mixture, one for dry ingredients, and another for the whipping the egg whites.
1 measure polenta
2 measures ground almonds
2 measures granulated sugar
1 measure sunflower oil
1 measure full fat plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt is best)
whole blanched almonds
Mix the polenta and ground almonds in a separate bowl.
Use as many cherries as you like, and cut them into quarters on a plate. These are Italian sour cherries in syrup, which came in a jar, so I needed to make sure that I had drained the syrup off them.
Then I coated them with about a teaspoonful of the polenta and ground almond mixture, so that they aren't too slippery and end up slipping down to the bottom of the cake.
The next job is separating the eggs. The yolks go into the large mixing bowl (the fifth yolk is hiding) with the sugar, sunflower oil and yoghurt. The yoghurt had started separating in the pot, so I drained off the liquid, otherwise the mixture might have ended up a little too runny.
Whisk all the ingredients in the large bowl until you have a nice smooth mixture.
Then, using a knife, fold in the polenta and ground almonds.
Next, beat the eggs whites until they are stiff...
... and gently fold the egg whites into the mixture, a dollop at a time...
... until the mixture looks like this. Tiny lumps of the aerated egg whites will still be visible.
The mixture is now ready to be spooned into the cake tins. I always use a paper lining.
For the cherry cake, I put in a layer of mixture, laid half of the cherries on top, then covered them with mixture and put in the rest of the cherries, and covered them too.
Both cakes are then decorated with blanched almonds on top, and put into a pre-heated oven.
They need a low oven. I have a fan oven, which is very good at burning cakes. I started these cakes off at 120°C, but after 20 minutes they had too much of a suntan, so I turned the oven down to 100°C. After 45 minutes they were ready - a skewer came out clean.
Here is the first slice from the cherry cake - a bit crumbly because I should have let it cool down a little longer, but we had made a pot of tea and were impatient to try it out.
It's delicious. Also, because this cake is made with sunflower oil instead of margarine, it doesn't have a tendency to dry out, and keeps better if it isn't all eaten at once.