Found me some gorgeous lemons!
Not aesthetically beautiful ….. but fragrant, lemony, sunshiny, wakey wakey kind of gorgeous!
You must understand my euphoria. The lemons we get here are usually pretty boring …. small, round little things that don’t have that lovely fresh tingly lemony fragrance. Honestly, if I’d never had the chance to taste and smell a better one, I wouldn’t have raved about this lot.
Naturally the smaller, boring ones are cheaper but eh? what’s the point of getting lemons that don’t smell like lemons? You get that tart taste … we have local limes that are better substitutes.
And so I bought a bagful… uh … make that 2 bagfuls.
Forget about making stuff with them, I’m happy just scratching at the skin and sniffing at them. Ooohhh heavenly!
After much scratching and sniffing (great way to disinfect and have super clean and nice smelling nails), I remembered a cake I’d had that made such a great impression on my tastebuds I promised myself I’d make one if I ever got my hands on really good lemons.
This was it.
And I’m happy that it’s relatively easy to make.
This has no flour in it, for the gluten intolerant. But unfortunately, there’s nuts, for folks who are allergic to them. And a ton of butter, for the fat intolerant. Indulge, for the ones who can’t say no to desserts.
Polenta / maize meal / corn meal gives it a grainy, rubble-like texture which works well with the lemon syrup drizzle as it doesn’t go all limp and soggy.
Should you attempt this, go for the good lemons. It’s worth it. Indulge.
(adapted from Nigella’s)
200 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
200 g ground almonds
100 g fine polenta
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
zest of 2 lemons (save juice for syrup)
juice of 2 lemons
125 g icing sugar
(Nigella uses a 9” springform pan, Base lined, sides greased and baked for 40 mins).
I used mini loaf pans 2” x 4”, bases lined and sides greased. Use a long strip to line the base so that you have a little overhang … to lift out your cake when it’s cooled.
Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Beat butter and sugar til fluffy and pale.
In a separate bowl, mix together the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the whipped butter, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Beat in the lemon zest and spoon into pans. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Bake for about 20 - 25 mins or until the tops are golden.
Remove from oven but leave in pan to cool.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and icing sugar. Once the icing sugar has dissolved, you’re done.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester and drizzle the warm syrup over.
(I drizzled about 2 tsps per little loaf. You can always use more but I didn’t want it to be too soggy or drizzle on just before serving).
Leave to cool before removing from pans.
(Use a spatula to loosen the sides a little when removing from pans)
Serve with extra drizzle, lemon curd and/or an extra sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.