Dearest readers. I'm in a very good mood and I'll tell you why. It's my friends, you see. The ones who are responsible for me being married to the Fabulous Man. The ones who at their wedding had the good sense to put me at the same table as said Fabulous Man. And who also (somehow) arranged for Mcnaught's comet to fill the entire sky that night, to make me feel that surely this was a sign of good things to come.
They are expecting a baby, which is fabulous news. Not at all surprising. These two are so wonderful, I knew some little soul would claim them as parents sooner rather than later. I've been waiting for them to make some sort of announcement for months now. And what do you know? This morning I gave the Lovely Steve (that's his real name, of course) a call, and he said the magic words: "We have news." And I was filled with happiness.
So, to celebrate, and congratulate, I decided to make a cake. My immediate thought was chocolate, as you do, but then realised that Sarah will be watching her caffeine intake. Mind you, as they are in New Zealand, and therefore cruelly denied to ever taste my cake, I realise that the caffeine levels in my cake is entirely beside the point. Still, in case the Lovely Steve decides to make his own version (and he is the best cook in the world, which I'll tell you about some time), I searched for something else.
In the pantry I had some almond meal left over from my tagine, and also a whole bag of lemons from our friend Nick's garden. Nick was also at the fateful wedding, so I thought it only fitting to look for a recipe combining the two. I consulted our friend Google, who suggested the lemon and almond polenta cake on Nigella's website. Now I have a motto in life, and it is that if it's good enough for Nigella, then it's good enough for me. That woman should be queen, I tell you. Not only will commonwealth envelopes feature uber sexy stamps, probably smelling of chocolate, more Australians might vote in favour of keeping the country a monarchy.
Of course the cake tasted fabulous. Not too sweet, very lemony, and a lovely texture thanks to the polenta. I only had the instant type, and it worked perfectly. If you have the patience to wait for the cake to cool completely in the tin, you're a better man than I am (figuratively speaking, of course). I couldn't wait, the smell was driving me crazy. And it was delicious, but very crumbly. You do really need to cut this cake fridge cold. After that you can serve it as as, but I also tried it at room temperature and slightly warm, both very good. You decide which you prefer.
A note to all Australian readers: this recipe is from the UK, therefore a tablespoon is 15ml, not 20ml. If anybody can tell me why Australia is different in this regard, I'd really like to know. Google wasn't sure.
Lemon, almond and polenta cake
Recipe from here
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
1 teaspoon (5ml) baking powder
6 extra tablespoons (15ml) caster sugar
Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 23cm springform pan.
In a bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.
Add the ground almonds and again beat well. Stir in the polenta and the baking powder. Grate in the zest of one of the lemons and the juice of half a lemon. Mix well and then scrape the mixture into your prepared tin.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour - check to make sure a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake.
While the cake is baking, place the zest of two of the lemons and the juice from the remaining three and a half lemons in a small saucepan with the 6 tablespoons of sugar. Stir to combine and then heat over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved.
When the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and prick all over with a skewer - immediately pour the lemon syrup over the cake and let it soak in completely.
Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and wrap in foil until needed. This cake keeps well in the fridge for a few days, but I double dare you to try and keep it that long.
Enjoy with some cream if you have some calories to spare, but keep in mind that a slice of this cake actually counts as a serving of fruit (lemons, and let's not forget the vitamin C) and a serving of calcium. It will be irresponsible not to add the cream.