The Italian Job: Lemon Flavoured Polenta and Olive Cake

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 This cake is an Italian influenced British-Hungarian mix. Or so…but it is certainly one thing: very good! The complex flavour reminds the consumer of the hard decision when facing patisserie windows in Italy; the sharp, but pleasant sogginess brings memories of the classic English tea time favourite, the lemon drizzle cake, and the borderline texture between cake and bread resembles many of the Hungarian favourites in the “kalacs” group of my native baking. It is a perfect relationship. The flavoursome grittiness of the polenta, the tender rubble of olive oil provide a comforting yet exciting frame for the wholly desirable dampness than does the unusual flour. And even more to it than that: the lemon – in the same time – highlights and hides the olive flavour in the cake, making it rich, sharp, sweet, familiar and unusual – all at the same time. Imagine that Alice takes you to the Mad Hatter’s tea party where you are shocked and surprised when biting into a cake: this would be it!!!!

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Method

Mix 2 eggs, 30 g light brown sugar and 100 g caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the zest of two lemons, followed by 85 ml sweet white wine , 85 ml plain yoghurt and 175 ml olive oil. Sift 180 gr plain flour, 35 g polenta, a pinch of salt and 1 tbsp baking powder into the bowl and fold in with a spatula. When it is well mixed with no lumps, incorporate 70 g roughly chopped mixed nuts. Spread the mixture into a tray of choice (12 muffins, 6 mini Kugelhopfs or a shallow tray) and bake in preheated oven at 200C for about 25 minutes.

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When cooled serve with a dust of icing sugar, accompanied by fruit, whipped cream, tea of coffee.

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