Winter Spiced Apricot and Lemon Polenta Cake

By Saturday, November 21, 2015

Polenta cakes are one of my favourite puddings - they are incredibly easy to make, hugely flavoursome, and the combination of almonds and polenta gives them fantastic texture. I got round to watching the first episode of Nigella Lawson's new show Simply Nigella the other night and she made the most incredible looking Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamom, which was enough to inspire me to create this cake! I really loved the idea Nigella had of infusing apricots and then blending them into the mixture, so applied that technique to my cake. I'm proud to say it was an overwhelming success and disappeared very quickly! The combination of ground almonds and polenta give the cake a really good bite, and the Ginger, Cinnamon and Star Anise add great depth of flavour. The cake itself is not actually very sweet, so the sharpness of the glaze is what brings everything together. If like me you are not a huge fan of Christmas Pudding or Christmas Cake, this makes a fantastic alternative!   

You will need:

23cm cake tin
200g butter, softened
200g ground almonds
200g golden caster sugar
2 tbsp set honey
100g polenta
100g dried apricots
250ml water
3 eggs
2 lemons, juiced and zested
3 star anise
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas 4 and grease your cake tin. Begin by softening the apricots. Place the apricots, star anise and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes (keep a close eye on it to ensure it doesn't go too dry). Then, leave to one side to cool. 

In the meantime, place the butter, sugar and honey in your food processor (or you can do by hand). Blend together the butter sugar and honey until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the polenta, 100g sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon, ginger and baking powder and in another beat together the eggs with vanilla extract. Add a third of the dry mixture to the processor and pulse until well combined. Then, add in a third of the apricot mixture, ensuring you add in all of the lovely infused water, and a third of the egg mixture. Blitz until well combined. Repeat this process another two times, until everything is well combined. 

Pour the mixture into your greased cake tin. Bake for 40 minuted, until beautiful and golden on the outside, and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool. In the meantime, make the glaze by adding the juice of the two lemons with the remaining 100g caster sugar. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed. Leave to cool completely. 

Once both the cake and syrup have cooled, remove the cake from its tin and place on your serving dish. Using the skewer, poke some holes in the cake - this will help ensure the syrup seeps all through the cake. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the syrup all over the cake. Decorate with the star anise. Serve and enjoy! 

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