I have a thing with polenta. Not a good thing I may add. The moment I discovered it & I also learnt I had an issue with it. It was Jamie Olivers fault. He was young, he was probably in Italy and he had a wooden scrubbed table in front of him. Now as you can imagine I’m no prude when it comes to tableware – I’ve eaten of far worse things than scrubbed tables – it wasn’t the table that made my stomach turn just a bit, it was the runny grobbles that Jamie slopped onto the table, with a well in the middle to be filled with an extremely tasty I’m sure stew of some sort. The table eating didn’t bother me, the stew looked saucy..it could’ve been a winner, if it wasn’t for the bright yellow guck. Polenta & me spent 15 years having a wide birth from each other, with occasional stomach churning recollections of the scrubbed table.
But the other day I tried making a cake with some leftover Primrose Curd. It’s an apple, egg, butter,lemon & primrose mix & I had high hopes for my cake. My first attempt with wheat flour looked like a WI prize winner. but within moments deflated into a wet batter. I mourned the loss of my cake & my kids ate it with a distaste I haven’t seen since Polentagate. However, behind the stodge was a gorgeous flavour. Fortunatly perhaps because Primrose & Polenta both start with the same letter (seriously it doesn’t get much more sophisticated than that in my head) I thought once more about Polenta & wondered if it was time to put aside my fear of the corny grain – perhaps this grain might be less slop, more substance in my cake?
Well, knock me over with a feather. A trip to the shop & a bake later and I am utterly in love with Polenta. gloopy it is not. It is my best friend of the week, it makes the loveliest gluten free cake (yes a lovely gluten free cake) and it turns out to like being scattered with primrose flowers – which is lucky because look all around you, they are everywhere at the moment. So here you have it. It’s been the star of my market stall for the last couple of weeks. Men & women have been going weak kneed over it & polenta is out of stock in the fair counties of Herefordshire & Monmouthshire. Polenta really is nice, in cake; in utterly gorgeous cake – good enough to adorn Jamie Olivers scrubbed table.
Primrose & Polenta Cake
Peel & chop 3 cooking apples (you’ll want 450g of apple), squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon slowly cook them until they are soft & pulpy, melt in 125 g butter & dissolve in 200g sugar- take off the heat & allow to cool enough to mix in 4 beaten eggs. Stir the mixture together until it is smooth. Stir into the mixture 1 tsp of baking powder (look for Rice Flour on the ingredients if you’re wanting to make a properly gluten free cake – baking powder often has wheat flour in it) & then stir in 500g polenta & 2 tablespoons of yoghurt. Now leave it for 1 hour to let the polenta grains absorb the liquid (you’ll thank me for this bit) If it’s very stiff once the grains have absorbed the liquid add glug of milk to loosen the batter. Then place the mix in a cake tin, wet the top of the cake and pat it down with your fingers (don’t ask me why this is important, but it is) put your cake into your oven preheated to 180 or whatever temperature you make your best cakes in. (oven temperature, not the temperature of your kitchen, although if that helps don’t let me stop you.) cook your cake until you can stick a knife in & it comes out clean.
Once cooled, drizzle your cake with icing sugar glaze (I use lemon juice in mine for sharpness) & scatter the top of your cake with Primose flowers. I freeze petals & crumble them over the cake – but it would look just as nice with whole petals – the only thing that doesn’t work is an earwig stuck in the icing. (a downside to using freshly picked flowers is how many earwigs you get to know)
Pukka. Primrose. Polenta. Innit.