Sunday, January 16, 2011

Polenta Cake, With Lemon & Lavender Syrup

The first time I used polenta in baking it was a bit of a disaster. However, after some swift googling I came to the realisation that not all polenta is created equally. There is quick-cook polenta (takes about 3 minutes) and slow-cook polenta (takes about 30 minutes). And the polenta that I had used in my polenta cookies must inevitably been the slow-cook variety because it was like eating sand. I wondered if that was just how the texture was supposed to be, but I didn't think most people enjoyed chewing on gritty sand, so thanks to the interwebs I did some more research and got re-inspired and realised that baking with polenta didn't have to be disastrous. Nessie's yummy polenta creations on her blog 'baking=yum' were a great inspiration and spurred me on. So I tried again, with a different cake recipe this time, and wow I was delighted with the result. It was easy and moist (and not gritty!), and gobbled-up in no time. Originally the recipe uses rosemary instead of lavender, but I've often used rosemary in baking and as much as I love it I wanted to try something different. Here is the link to the original recipe if you want to give it a go, I will give it a go myself sometime. Happy baking!


114g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cup (187g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (105g) polenta (To be on the safe side, I used instant)
4 eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
Zest of 2 lemons (or other citrus)

5 lavender flowers
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup (66g) sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon


Melt the butter, set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and polenta.

Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy and doubled in size. Add the lemon zest.

Fold in a third of the dry ingredients and then half of the melted butter; repeat until everything is incorporated.

Pour into a greased or lined 9 inch cake tin (a spring-form tin is fine too). Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180 Celsius, or until golden and cooked through.

While the cake is baking, you can prepare the syrup: Heat the water, sugar, lemon zest, and lavender in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then take the saucepan off the heat. Let the mixture steep for 15 minutes (this just means let it sit there so all the natural oils and flavours get extracted). Before using, strain then add the lemon juice.
Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes, then spoon the strained syrup over the cake and let it sit a little for a while to fully absorb. The syrup will actually be very watery, but you will be surprised how thirsty that wee cake will be. I like to lightly prick holes in the top of the cake with a knitting needle to help this process along.

Remove cake from pan and serve. I think this cake goes really well with the sharpness of a nice thick plain yoghurt.


  1. I had a polenta cake a few months ago that was similar to yours - it was drenched in an amazing orange and cardamom syrup. Polenta's so versatile; we have polenta chips at work on the tapas menu, served with a beetroot relish & aioli. God, all this talk of food - I need to go eat!

  2. This looks yum!
    I'd never heard of polenta until a few months ago (had polenta chips at a restaurant - super yummy)

    PS: The laundromat used to be called "wash-a-tipu"

  3. Hi Nigel and piglet, thanks to you I now have a hankering for polenta chips, I guess they will have to be my next polenta experiment. Yum!

  4. Never heard of Polenta chips - gotta give 'em a try!!!


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