Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Almond, Raspberry and Rose Polenta Cake

- both gluten and dairy free

This was my second attempt at this recipe; the first being this cake, where I changed both the nuts and fruit used. The outcome was delicious, but the fruit sank and spoiled the look of the cake. This time, I made even more adaptations (naughty me!) because I wanted the cake to be dairy-free as well as gluten-free, and I also didn't want to use any citrus fruit. While I was making changes, I decided to replace half the polenta with fine cornmeal, to reduce the graininess of the texture

225g dairy-free spread (I used Pure sunflower spread)
225g caster sugar
3 large eggs
60g fine cornmeal (not cornflour)
65g polenta (the instant kind is all I can get)
125g ground almonds
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rose water (or more, depending on strength*)
a few drops of almond extract*
50mls water*
200g raspberries

* The rose water, almond extract and water replaces the citrus juice and zest in the original recipe. 50mls is less than the juice of 2 lemons, but I felt the batter was too sloppy the first time I made this cake. 

I only used 1 teaspoon of rose water as the brand I use is quite concentrated. I often see recipes using a lot more, so the strength must vary from brand to brand. I once made the mistake of adding more of the Neilsen-Massey rose water, and the result was inedible because of the overpowering rose flavour.

Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
Cream together the spread and sugar, in a large bowl, until light and fluffy.
In another bowl, mix together the cornmeal, polenta, almonds, baking powder and salt.
Add the rose water and almond extract to the fat and sugar mix, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the dry ingredients with each egg.
Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients, in portions, alternating with a splodge of the water, until all ingredients are added.
Let the batter stand for 5 minutes (I was distracted by a phone call at this point, and the batter thickened a little while I was away - I think this may be an advantage, so I'll be adding this stage to the recipe in future!).
Spread half the batter in the baking tin, then sprinkle with half the raspberries (I used the small and broken fruit in the middle). Gently spread over the remaining batter, then arrange the rest of the raspberries on top, spacing them evenly.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and just firm in the centre (I use a colour-changing cake tester, as a probe isn't always reliable when there's fresh fruit in  a cake).
Cool the cake in the tin, and if desired, dust with icing sugar before serving.

I think this cake is one of the best gluten and dairy free cakes I've ever made, and possibly the most delicious seasonal fresh fruit cake I've eaten this summer! That's really saying something, because, as you know, I'm quite critical of my baking and can usually find something wrong.

Unfortunately, I was taking this cake to a friend's house for lunch, and only managed to photograph the cake still in it's baking tin, and the leftovers, so for such a great cake, I'm not showing it at it's best! As you can see, though, the fruit didn't all sink (hooray - main objective achieved!).

The rose flavour was subtle and well balanced against that of the raspberries and almonds. The addition of a few drops of almond extract really brought out the flavour of the nuts - sometimes ground almonds on their own don't have a very strong flavour, which is OK if you're just interested in adding moisture and texture, but not good enough if you want a cake to taste of almonds. The texture was good too - moist, but still quite light, with an even close crumb, and not too gritty from the polenta. I think the only improvement I could make would be to add another 50g of fruit - 200g in such a large cake is quite sparsely distributed.

Late decision - rather than miss the next round of Formula 1 Foods, run by Caroline, from Caroline Makes, because I will be on holiday for most of the first half of September, I will enter this cake. The next F1 GP race takes place in Italy, during the first weekend in September. Almonds and polenta seem to crop up frequently in Italian cake recipes, so this could be said to be an Italian inspired cake, although I'm not sure raspberries and rose flavour really fits the bill! It's this or nothing, Caroline!

Another late decision - as this is by far the best cake I've made for ages, I'm also adding it to the Simply Eggcellent link-up over at Belleau Kitchen. Dom's theme this month is cakes, so I'm looking forward to seeing all the entries and getting some new ideas!


Unknown said...

I love this cake and have made something similar before... to me it tastes so exotic, I love it! and it's so delicately beautiful too. a lovely addition to the Simply Eggcellent link-up, thank you x

Snowy said...

What interesting flavours. I love polenta cakes, so definitely one to try.

Caroline Cowe said...

I really must get around to making some gluten free cakes as the woman I sit next to at work now doesn't eat gluten so I will be bookmarking this recipe! It definitely has an Italian feel to it in my opinion, thanks for sharing with Formula 1 Foods!