I picked up some polenta in the health food store during the summer, intending to do something with it. Unsure what to do with this ingredient, it languished at the back of the cupboard. Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal. It can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired. Polenta was originally and still is a peasant food. Italian cuisine has been characterized by being the food of the peasant and in this way, polenta is truly an Italian national dish, and may have a history much more ancient than either pizza or pasta.
So this weekend, I decided it was time to break open the pack and try it out. From all the recipes using polenta that I researched, I opted for an orange polenta cake in the end, and I was delighted with the results. The orange can be substituted for lemon if preferred. This made a delicious dessert cake, served warm with a berry fruit compote and a dollop of cream. The polenta adds a unique texture and taste to the cake, which is light and not overly sweet.
1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line the base and sides of a round 23cm cake tin with baking parchment. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly. Once the mixture is combined, add all the dry ingredients and the zest and juice after you have measured off 100ml for the glaze.
2. Transfer the mixture to the tin, spread evenly, then cook for about 45 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
3. To make the glaze, put the juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 5 mins, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Drizzle the orange glaze over the top of the cooled cake.
(Recipe adapted from Good Food Magazine)