A zesty little number, this is an easy-to-make, delightfully light and fluffy cake, with an excellent texture from the polenta. It's also a great way to showcase the delicious flavours of lemon and to also take advantage of other winter citrus fruits. The cake is given an extra bit of oomph with a boozy citrus sauce.
- 200 g caster sugar
- 250 g diced unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- fine zest of 2 lemons
- 1 pinch salt
- 4 eggs
- 125 g self-raising flour, sifted
- 125 g polenta, buzzed in a blender until fine
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 100 g caster sugar
- 50 ml lemon juice
- 50 ml orange juice
- fine zest from 1 orange
- 50 ml limoncello
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 10 minutes
In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, zest and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix quite vigorously, until you have a creamed texture. Alternatively, use an electric mixer.
Add the eggs one by one, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before the next one goes in.
Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is fully combined. Turn the cake mixture out into a lined 26 cm spring-formed tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Place in a pre-heated oven at 170°C and cook for 25 minutes.
While you are waiting for your cake to cook, have a little syrup moment.
To make the syrup, combine the sugar, citrus juice and zest in a small saucepan. Give it a little stir to incorporate, before placing it on a medium heat. Allow it to come to the boil undisturbed and then let it bubble away, until it starts to caramelise and change colour slightly. This will take about 5 minutes. At this stage, add the limoncello, being careful of spitting liquids, and let the syrup come to the boil again, before removing from the heat and setting aside.
Now it may be time to check your cake. Pull it out of the oven and test using a skewer; it should come out clean. If not, pop it back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
Once it’s ready, place the cake on a wire rack and use a pastry brush to brush the syrup over the top. You won’t need to use it all. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes or so, before removing it from the tin.
Cake can be eaten immediately, but will be needed to be cut with a gentle hand as it will still be fragile. Serve with some mascarpone and extra syrup drizzle over the top.
• Syrup can be made ahead of time and will store in the fridge for a good week or so. A tasty little number that would be good added to cocktails or even poured over a pancake.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson. Borge Mogensen Spanish chair, from Great Dane Furnture. Tapas coffee cup in indigo from Country Road. Mode plate 20 cm in colour stone from Royal Doulton. Bogart cake fork from The Chef and The Cook.