zesty cake

































Zesty Pistachio and Polenta Cake

When I first made this cake I was so excited: I had arrived at
platform cake nirvana. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it: as I
walked across the kitchen to clean down a surface, or top up my
cup of tea, out of the corner of my eye I would catch another
gorgeous glimpse of the cake, with its smouldering looks, that
needed to be captured on my memory card.
The addition of a fragrant sugar syrup infused with cardamom
subtly alludes to the Spice Trail. Poured over and lovingly
massaged into the cake after cooking, it is reminiscent of the
syrup that oozes forth from fresh baklava all over the Middle
East. If I owned a snazzy seaside café, the kind you find in the
cool ’burbs of Sydney, the Atlantic coast of France and now on
the south coast of Britain, I would make this cake and have fun
guessing who would order it: Nichole Farhi-clad women and
men… Boden-clad children…


250g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
100g polenta
250g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
for the syrup
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
juice of 1 lemon
75g pistachios, chopped
makes 8–10 slices.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Line a 23cm springform
cake tin with baking parchment.
Cream together the softened butter and sugar in a free-standing
mixer, or by hand in a large bowl. Add the eggs, one by one,
beating well between each addition. Fold in the polenta, ground
almonds, baking powder and lemon zest and juice.
Bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes, until the top of the cake
has coloured and the centre is firm. Leave the cake in the tin
for 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool. When cool,
transfer to a serving plate.
Make the syrup by warming the caster sugar with the ground
cardamom and lemon juice. Using a thin skewer or a piece of dry
spaghetti, punch holes into the surface of the cake. This culinary
acupuncture creates a network of sweet stigmata into which you
can then drizzle the syrup. I use a small tea strainer for this task,
to diffuse the syrup as evenly as I can. Sprinkle with the chopped
pistachios. Bliss...