Cakes

Lemon + Thyme Polenta Cake


Prep Time : 15 Minutes | Cook Time : 30 Minutes | Total Time : 2 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Hello my lovelies! How about a bit of cake? A bit of cake that is pretending it’s spring. Bright lemon with a touch of aromatic thyme. I used to hate the texture of polenta in things. I just didn’t get it. But now I love it. In breads, pastries, cookies and cake. It brings another layer of texture and it’s a wonderful crumbly foil for buttery flavours. No stodginess here. It’s so golden and inviting. Today we are making soft buttery cake with just the right amount of spring and just the right amount of crumble. Then topping it with lashings of infused lemony syrup. Winning. This is a little twist on a version I made for dinner with friends recently where it was a huge hit. Even my lemon-hating snug-bug likes this cake – I may have almost converted him!

As well as being simple and delicious this cake keeps incredibly well. They syrup keeps it moist. The polenta and almonds keep it from losing texture. This cake isn’t completely gluten free but the amount of flour is small so swapping it out for your favourite gluten-free cup for cup blend is totally fine. While it’s easier to bake this cake in a springform pan you can use a regular round pan and carefully turn the cake out while it’s still warm and apply the syrup with a pastry brush to keep it on the cake and not on the bench.

Heat the oven to 180C (350F). Line the bottom of a 9 inch round spring-form pan with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating really well after each addition. Give it a good 5 minutes after all the eggs are in. It will still be a little curdled but the extra time will really help get everything distributed well.

Add the almonds, flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Mix gently until combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top as best you can. The batter is think so it’s hard to get it perfect.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is risen and springs back when lightly touched in the centre. Overdoing it by a minute or two won’t hurt. The syrup will keep everything moist.

While the cake is baking make the syrup. Put the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Rub the thyme with your fingers to crush the leaves a bit and release the aromas. Pop the thyme in the pot as well and put it over a low heat.

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then bring the syrup to a simmer. Let it simmer for a minute or so then remove from the heat and pull the thyme stalks out.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. If your pan is springform just leave the cake in the pan and start brushing the syrup over the top of the cake with a large pastry brush. This is by far the best way to evenly distribute the syrup. If you didn’t use a springform pan gently turn the cake out and set it on a piece of baking paper on a rack before brushing with syrup.

You will need to do 3 or 4 passes at it to get all the syrup to soak in. Coat the cake in a thick layer then leave it for 5 minutes to soak in then do another one until all the syrup is used.

Leave the cake to cool completely before serving. This cake is better the next day so it’s a great make-ahead dessert option. A little creme fraiche or greek yoghurt in a bowl on the side and you’re sorted.

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Lemon + Thyme Polenta Cake


Prep Time : 15 mins | Cook Time : 30 mins | Total Time : 2 hours | Difficulty : Easy

Makes : a 9 inch round cake

Tender buttery lemon polenta cake soaked with thyme infused lemon syrup – fabulous with a little creme fraiche.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks less 2 tablespoons (200 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 + 1/2 cups (150 grams) ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (50 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) fine polenta
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the syrup:

  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (85 mls) lemon juice
  • 2 -3 sprigs of thyme

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Standing or hand-held electric mixer
  • 9 inch round pan (preferably springform) lined with baking paper

Directions:

Heat the oven to 180C (350F). Line the bottom of a 9 inch round spring-form pan with baking paper and grease the sides with butter.

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating really well after each addition. Give it a good 5 minutes after all the eggs are in. It will still be a little curdled but the extra time will really help get everything distributed well.

Add the almonds, flour, polenta, baking powder and salt. Mix gently until combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top as best you can. The batter is think so it’s hard to get it perfect.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake is risen and springs back when lightly touched in the centre. Overdoing it by a minute or two won’t hurt. The syrup will keep everything moist.

While the cake is baking make the syrup. Put the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Rub the thyme with your fingers to crush the leaves a bit and release the aromas. Pop the thyme in the pot as well and put it over a low heat.

Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then bring the syrup to a simmer. Let it simmer for a minute or so then remove from the heat and pull the thyme stalks out.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. If your pan is springform just leave the cake in the pan and start brushing the syrup over the top of the cake with a large pastry brush. This is by far the best way to evenly distribute the syrup. If you didn’t use a springform pan gently turn the cake out and set it on a piece of baking paper on a rack before brushing with syrup.

You will need to do 3 or 4 passes at it to get all the syrup to soak in. Coat the cake in a thick layer then leave it for 5 minutes to soak in then do another one until all the syrup is used.

Leave the cake to cool completely before serving. This cake is better the next day so it’s a great make-ahead dessert option. A little creme fraiche or greek yoghurt in a bowl on the side and you’re sorted.

Cook’s Notes:

  • To make a mini cake, halve this recipe and bake in a 7 inch round pan. To halve an egg crack it into a small bowl and weigh it. Whisk the egg with a fork to combine white and yolk then divide roughly in half based on the weight.
  • You can omit the thyme in this recipe for a classic lemon polenta cake.

 – This cake is best the day after it’s made when the syrup has had a chance to infuse the cake fully. It will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature – 

Adapted from Kitchen by Nigella Lawson.

© 2018 Wellington Bakehouse. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

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5 thoughts on “Lemon + Thyme Polenta Cake

  1. It just so happens that I have a jug of new lemon juice in the fridge and lots of thyme in the garden so that looks like I should try this!

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