Friday, 20 February 2009

Wet Pear, Almond and Polenta Cake

Think of a British cake and images of afternoon tea and sponge come to mind. Just a basic Victoria with a thin layer of raspberry jam and a dusting of icing sugar is the perfect accompaniment to a good old cuppa.

There aren't any cakes I can think of that I dislike and although I will always hold a special place for our own concoctions of nothing more than eggs, sugar, butter and flour, I've grown to love some of our European cakes a little more. The more wet the better; think of Greek honey cake or a Turkish Baklava. Those things are moist and heavy and entail plenty of finger licking afterwards.

At a decent Italian restaurant some years back I had a delicious lemon and polenta cake. Crispy outer layer thanks to the polenta leading to a lemon syrup sponge, it was a memorable end to the meal. So memorable that I've tried to make that very cake several times with varying degrees of success.

Using the same techniques, which entails stewing fruit into a purée or boiling lemons or oranges whole before puréeing, I've tried all kinds of fruit. You will always be guaranteed a moist cake flavoured heavily with your choice of fruit. This one uses pears, one of my favourite fruit. Go for pears that are almost on the edge of going off and you will have an incredibly fragrant yet subtle tasting cake.

Wet Pear, Almond and Polenta Cake

200g butter
150g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
100g ground almonds
100g polenta
100g self raising flour
200g pear puree, made from 4-5 pears, peeled and chopped and softened in a little water

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C, GM4.
2 - In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla essence and then stir in the eggs one by one.
3 - Fold in the almonds and polenta. Sieve in the flour and fold in. Finally, fold in the pear purée.
4 - Pour into a lined cake tin with a removable base. Bake on the centre shelf for 50-60 minutes until golden brown. If it starts to catch too soon, cover loosely with baking paper.
5 - Rest and allow to cool.

11 comments:

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Yummy! I love damp citrus type cakes but I hear you on the pear.

I went to a children's tea party this week. All the food was prepared by the Grandma - homemade scotch eggs, triangle sandwiches, etc, and a beautiful array of sweet treats. Children don't have tea parties like that anymore and I LOVED it. So much so I said the boys could have a tea party soon.

Bellini Valli said...

This cake does sound amazing David. Pears are one of the only really lovely fruits to be had at the market during the winter months.

Girl Interrupted Eating said...

Oh that sounds delicious . Immediate bookmark

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I've certainly made an orange version a couple of times - but I'm liking the sound of a pear version very much...

Holler said...

I have never tried polenta before, it has never appealed to me, but this cake sounds really good! I may have to purchase some :)

cackster said...

Well this looks and sounds like a cake to impress my Gran with, she likes the odd cake I make so might just have to give it a go.

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Jan said...

Delicious looking cake, David. I love that you used pears in it.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Greek honey cake? You mean baklava, right? Or is there some other Greek honey cake that I do not know?

Cynthia said...

I will not be tempted. I will not be tempted. I will not...

Kim McGowan said...

This looks like one for the gluten free gang...swapping out the wheat flour for more almonds or Doves GF Flour! I can never have enough GF cake recipes! Thanks! Kim