RECIPE: Cherry and Almond Polenta cake

by - June 27, 2010

Looking back at my posts, it seems I haven't posted a recipe since 3rd March which makes this a pretty crap food blog, no? Anyways, let's get back in the driving seat with this cherry and almond polenta cake with a lemon syrup drizzle I've been tinkering with. I made this for my dad's birthday, and whenever I make someone a birthday cake, I try and incorporate some of their favourite ingredients into it.

Dad loves cherries, eyeing up my cherry tree in the back garden on his visits, ensuring I'm taking good care of it, thus reaping him punnets of plump fruits. Unfortunately, and despite not yet being ripe, the flipping seagulls have already started to eat the swelling fruit, perversely leaving me the piles of cherry pips just to rub it into my face further. Arses.

Although it doesn't have the springiness of a flour based cake, what I love about polenta cake is that it holds such moisture, and remains beautifully crumbly. It is very suitable as a dessert so a nice scoop of real vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sweetened marscapone would be a divine partnership.

I love the cherries that are pushed into the top of this cake, taking on a gorgeous jammy consistency. The syrup is a must, bringing a sour, sticky kick to it.

200g Room temperature unsalted butter
200g Caster sugar
200g Ground almonds
100g Polenta
3 Medium eggs
Half a lemon
300g Ripe cherries, pitted
20g Flaked almonds
1 tsp Baking powder

50g Caster sugar (for the syrup)
1 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a round spring form or loose bottomed cake tin, about 9 inches in diameter.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs one by one, beating in well.

Fold in the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder, zest and juice of half a lemon, combining it well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place the cherries top of the mixture, gently pressing them in. Add the flaked almonds.

Bake for 50mins - 1 hour, checking a skewer comes out clean. If not, pop back into the oven, covering the top with tin foil so the almonds don't burn. It should be golden and firm to the touch.

Whilst the cake is still in the oven, put the rind and juice of one lemon with the caster sugar and a tablespoon of water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar completely dissolves.

Remove the cake from the oven, and pour over the syrup immediately.

Allow the cake to cook completely before removing it from the tin and serve as it is or with some ice cream or sweetened marscapone.

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