I like a fancy cake as much as the next person, probably more so. Crumbly tops, fruity fillings, chocolate, they all float my boat. But so do basic, unassuming cakes, ones that seem almost dull in their simplicity. In fact, the more simple the cake, the better it has to be; there are no whistles or bells or, you know, lashings of frosting, to hide behind. It doesn’t get much more easy than this one-step cake and, to my mind, it doesn’t get much better.
It’s funny that about this time last year I first professed my love for nutty cakes; they really are the best. They stay moist, have that delicious nubbly texture and taste fantastic to boot. This polenta and almond cake I made last week was all of the above; it had a great marzipan taste – my favourite – and such a pretty yellow colour. The crumb was light yet moist (thanks to the polenta) and oh so buttery rich. I found the original recipe a tad sweet so I would reduce the sugar next time, a change I’ve made to the version below (the original calls for 225g). I also added some lemon zest which I liked a lot but is not strictly necessary. This sunshiney cake really doesn’t need an accompaniment more than a cup if tea or coffee but would make a splendid dessert paired with some ripe summer berries and softly whipped cream.
Almond and polenta cake
From BBC Good Food 101 Mediterranean Dishes
- a pinch of saffron
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 175g sugar
- 4 eggs
- zest of one lemon
- ½tsp almond extract
- 125g fine polenta
- 100g ground almonds
- 1½tsp baking powder
Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin and heat the oven to 180°C. Soak the saffron in the warm water.
Whisk the remaining ingredients in a large bowl unitl smooth then strain the saffron water and stir into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, remove and allow to cool completely.
Sprinkle with icing sugar to decorate.