This may be Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Polenta Cake recipe, but the memories that it evokes for me are those of long ago, at Sunday family dinners. Several months ago my sister made this cake for a family Sunday dinner, and the moment I tasted it, I knew I had eaten this cake before, but I wasn’t quite sure where or when. The taste haunted me. Each bite brought me closer and closer to realizing the occasion where I might have tasted this nutty, citrusy sweetness. And then it hit me. On occasion, my grandmother would bake a cake similar to this, although not exactly the same. To the best of my recollection, her cake was not as sweet. I don’t think she added the final touch of the confectioners sugar/lemon syrup. I wondered if my sister had my grandmother’s recipe, but was greatly surprised when she told me she got it off Nigella Lawson’s website. I loved this cake then, and I love it now. I especially love the feeling that it arouses in me as I delight in it’s very distinctive taste and texture. It’s no wonder that it’s unforgettable.
RECIPE: You will need a 9 inch springform pan.
1 3/4 stick (14 TBSP) soft unsalted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups almond meal/flour
3/4 cup fine polenta (cornmeal)
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons ( save the lemons to juice for the cake)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 heaping cup of confectioners sugar
1. Line the base of your pan with parchment paper and grease it’s sides lightly with butter.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until whipped.
4. Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder.
5. Beat some of the dry mixture into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
6. Finally, beat in the lemon zest.
7. Pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Use a cake taster (toothpick will do) to make sure it is cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack, but leave it in the pan to cool.
8. Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and the confectioners sugar in a smallish saucepan. Once the confectioners sugar has dissolved into the juice, the syrup is done. Remove from the heat.
9. Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (or toothpick) and pour the warm syrup over the cake. Leave it to cool before taking it out of the pan.