I’m not really sure I could handle a gluten free diet. Don’t get me wrong, I have massive respect for those who opt out of bacon sandwiches with thick, springy bread or a huge plate of macaroni cheese – either by choice or for health reasons. But I am a girl who eats two slices of toast for breakfast and eats a disgusting amount of aforementioned cheesy pasta dish for my tea. No flour? No thanks.
However this week, Kathryn from London Bakes served up this delicious balsamic strawberry polenta cake and I was in GF heaven. Those juicy plump strawberries, bursting with juice married with lemon had me at hello. In the post, Kathryn added that this cake was gluten free in an almost throw-away manner, like it didn’t really matter at all. And you know what? I totally agree.
I have never baked or even cooked with polenta before; it always conjures up images of fat packets lining the shelves in the supermarkets when we are on holiday. I haven’t really seen it in the depths of Aberdeen supermarkets until I went looking for it and even then it was nestled with the Indian foods rather than the Italian as I had expected. Still, this mustardy yellow cornmeal sure packs a punch in this delicious summertime cake.
I decided to make two thirds of the original recipe for two reasons – one, I didn’t think I had enough ground almonds and two, I was worried the batter would be too much for my measly sandwich tin. I was right on both accounts but if you are well endowed on the almond front and have a deep 20cm cake tin then go ahead for the full hog. But this scaled down version still feeds an army for the perfect pudding.
I also switched the strawberries and lemon for blueberries and lime, as I love the zingy combination. The blueberries were starting to turn anyway and burst beautifully into jammy pools of sticky dark purple. The lime brightens this cake up and with a cooling dollop of plain yogurt (I don’t see the point in buying crème fraiche for one spoonful) I would wholeheartedly jump ship to the gluten free side. But can I keep my macaroni?
Adapted from London Bakes
You Will Need
150g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
2 limes, zested with the juice of ½
1’/2 tsp vanilla paste
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat an oven to 170/150oc fan/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm sandwich tin and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer – or a large bowl if using a handheld whisk – beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in the almonds until fully incorporated, scraping the bowl to ensure the batter is mixed through. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully combined.
Add the lime zest and juice of ½ of one of the limes along with the vanilla paste, baking powder and polenta and stir to combine. Carefully fold in a small handful of the blueberries through the mix.
Dollop the batter into the cake tin and smooth with a spatula. Dot the remaining blueberries across the top of the cake, pressing in some as you go then place in the oven for 45 minutes until golden.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then carefully place a wire rack over the top and invert. Remove the baking parchment and leave to cool completely. When ready to serve, place a plate on the bottom of the cake and upturn so the berries are on the top. Cut into wedges and serve with plain yoghurt or creme fraiche.
Thank you very much to any readers who nominated me for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2013 – i didn’t make the cut this year, but the lovely Lottie’s Little Kitchen did! If you want to vote for your favourite foodie, click here!