My Farewell Celebration Cake for Mum; Lemon, Polenta and Almond Cake
This lemon, polenta and almond cake recipe has been with me since I was a young commis chef working in a London restaurant. This is another one of my recipes that has left me with fabulous memories,mainly of grafting really hard as a young chef. I remember the seriously lemony zing and I loved eating the raw batter.When I made this cake yesterday as my farewell to mum, the memories came flooding back as if it were yesterday.
The time has come for mum to return home and the tissues are at the ready as we are preparing to take mum to Heathrow. I thought no farewell would be proper without baking a cake. After all I owe mum a big thank you for all the ironing, cleaning, chatting and teaching me how to knit. Mum brought a few recipes and even grannies book came along and now she’s returning with this one to bake for her friends.
Like me, mum loved the richness, moistness and lemony punch that this cake delivers, if she could, she would have taken a few slices on the plane. As we were eating the cake we were analysing it in depth as we have been doing with all the recipes during the past three months. We came to the conclusion that this cake would be lovely for a glorious afternoon tea and would also make a scrummy pudding with a big dollop of mascarpone ice cream.
I did make a few alterations to the recipe from my previous commis day’s by adding the crunchy almond and sugar topping and the boozy addition. As it’s a celebratory cake a glug of Amaretto fits the bill quite nicely.
- 225g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 225g caster sugar
- 225g ground almonds
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 115g polenta
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 4 small lemons, zest and juice
- Pinch of salt
- 1tsp amaretto liqueur
- 50g light brown sugar
- 50g flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 150°C; line and grease a 7"(18cm) OR 8"(20cm) spring form tin, I have used the 7" today and the cake was level with the top. I used to bake this cake in a 8" pan which results in a slightly shallower cake.
I recommend unwaxed lemons for this recipe as it has a clean taste and a very powerful fragrance. Zest all the lemons thoroughly and squeeze the juice, strain the juice to remove the pips and set aside.
Cream the soft unsalted butter, vanilla seeds and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold the ground almonds into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition. Add the amaretto liqueur and the lemon zest and juice.
Sprinkle the polenta and baking powder over the egg batter and lightly fold it in, do not over work the mixture. The mix is naturally runny.
Pour the mixture in to the prepared cake tin, place the cake tin in the preheated oven on the middle shelf and bake for 1 ½ hour, test if the cake is cooked by inserting a metal skewer and if it comes out clean with a light oily residue left on the skewer, then its ready.
Sprinkle the flaked almonds and light brown sugar over the cooked cake, I then spray the top of the cake with clean water a couple of times, return the cake to the oven for a further 8 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool until lukewarm before removing the tin.
This cake has a very fine texture and is very rich so small slices will be highly recommended.
Serves 8 - 10 slices of cake