Category: Cake

Cherry Polenta Cake Recipes

Serves 8-10.

butter 220g
caster sugar 220g
cherries 200g
ground almonds 180g
fine polenta 220g
baking powder 1 tsp
lemon 1
eggs 3, large
For the syrup:
cherries 400g
honey 3 tbsp
elderflower cordial 160ml

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Line the base of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.


Dice the butter and put it in the bowl of a food mixer with the caster sugar and beat until light and creamy. Halve and stone the 200g of cherries.

Mix together the ground almonds, fine polenta and the baking powder. Grate the zest from the lemon and stir into the polenta. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a small bowl. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly.

Add the beaten egg to the butter and sugar mixture, beating continuously, adding a little of the polenta mixture should it start to curdle. Fold in the remaining polenta mixture and the lemon juice.

Spoon half the batter into the lined cake tin, add the cherries, then the remaining batter and smooth the surface. Bake for 35 minutes, then lower the heat to 160C/gas mark 4 and bake for further 25 minutes until the cake is lightly firm to the touch.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup. Halve and stone the 400g of cherries. Warm the elderflower cordial and honey in a small pan, then add the cherries and let them simmer for 5-7 minutes until the fruit has given up some of its juice.

When the cake is ready, remove from the oven, then pierce all over with a skewer or knitting needle. Spoon some of the syrup from the cherries over the surface so it runs down through the holes into the crumb of the cake, then leave to cool.

Remove the cake from its tin; serve with the cherry compote and, if you like some cream or crème fraîche.


Makes 12
100g unsalted butter, plus extra
100g walnuts, fresh or dried
100g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
50g plain flour
A pinch of salt
4 egg whites
50g espresso or strong coffee

For the glaze
200g golden icing sugar
60g espresso or strong coffee

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, and grease a financier mould with melted butter.

2 To make the brown butter, melt it in a pan and continue to heat until the milk solids have turned golden. Set aside to cool a little.

3 Grind the walnuts, almonds, caster sugar and icing sugar in a food processor. Add the flour and salt.

4 Add the egg whites and coffee to the dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Mix in the warm brown butter. Pour evenly into the prepared tins. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

5 To make the glaze, whisk together the golden icing sugar and coffee. Pour over the financiers once they have cooled completely.

How to Bake Flat Cake Layers

I’m not sure there will ever come a day when baking isn’t magical to me. I still get giddy when I turn on the oven light, peek through the glass to see biscuits doubling in size. Or when a waif of baking banana bread skips through the house and under my little nose. Baking is my magic.

I love the trust and faith we must have in a recipe, in the ratio and in the ingredients. We trust that those ingredients will interact, react and transform into something so beautifully delicious.

Cake flat
Having just whispered all those sweet words of nothing, I’ll admit I’m not really a cake-maker-type girl. I’m not sure if a single layered-cake even lives on this blog. I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with me being an impatient person and thinking cake decorating is a little tedious. But when I want cake inspo, I turn to Sara from Matchbox Kitchen. She makes some insanely pretty cakes. One thing I LOVE about her cakes is how they’re all perfectly cylinder. The tops are completely flat. Flat cake tops are all the rage in the cake world.

Cake layers usually dome on us, rising right in the center and then cracking. I think doming on a quick bread is beautiful. I love it. My friend and baker, Hourie, wouldn’t think to serve a quick bread that didn’t dome. Cakes are different, though. But not to worry because baking flat cake layers couldn’t be easier!

Just like my last how-to, I’m a little insecure about this post. Do you know this already? Is this obvious?

You could take a serrated knife or this cake slicer thing (that looks like a gigantic cheese slicer) and lop off the top of the cake. I’ve done this before. But sort of annoying.

OR you could buy these even baking strips that go around your cake pans. But sort of a waste of money, especially since this method uses an old towel and a few safety pins.

To start, you want to cut strips that fit the sides of your cake pan.

Fun side note: Use an old CLEAN towel, not an old dirty towel. I almost ended up using one that I used to clean the bathroom with. I can’t imagine cleaning solutions on towel strips and in the oven with your cake is a good combo.

Next, you want to dampen the towel strips and wring out any excess water.

Wrap them around the cake pans and secure them tightly with a few safety pins.

Repeat that whole process with the second cake pan.

Oh and be sure to butter your cake pans, line the bottoms with a round of parchment and dust them with flour. So important.

Add the cake batter to the pans and smack them down on the counter a few times. This will eliminate any air bubbles.

Put it in the oven and bake away.

What’s happening here is that the moisture from towel is helping the cake bake more evenly, resulting in an even rise and a cake with a flat top.

When they come out, they’ll be perfectly flat. Ta-daaaaa!!

This cake is inspired by Claire Ptak, who cooked the most delicious flourless muffins at the Port Eliot festival in Cornwall earlier this summer. You can buy ready-made almond paste online, if you fancy a shortcut, but make sure it contains at least 60% almonds. Serves 10.

250g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
300g skin-on almonds
300g caster sugar, divided
3 eggs
Zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
225g polenta flour
75g light brown sugar
550g plums, stoned and halved

Heat the oven to 175C/gas mark 3½. Grease and line the base of a loose-bottomed 23cm cake tin.

Put the almonds in a food processor and grind for at least five minutes, until you see some oil coming out of them. Add two-thirds of the caster sugar and carry on grinding for a few minutes, until you have a paste. Clean everything down and set the paste aside.

In the bowl of a food mixer, beat the butter until pale, light and fluffy, then add the remaining caster sugar and beat for a few minutes to combine. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the orange zest, vanilla extract and 440g of the almond paste. Once thoroughly combined, gently beat in the baking powder, salt and polenta flour.

Sprinkle brown sugar around the inside of the greased tin and lay the plums cut side down on the base. Pour over the cake mixture and smooth with a spatula. Put the cake tin on a baking tray, cover with baking paper and bake for about an hour, until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cake to rest in the tin for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen. Put a large plate on top and invert the cake on to the plate. Remove the tin and replace any dislodged pieces of fruit. The cake is lovely with cream or creme fraiche.

And for the rest of the week…

Leftover strips of duck and cold rice makes a sensational filling for a lunchbox. Or put the meat between bread with chutney, mayo and piles of rocket for a superior sandwich. Or ditch the bread and make a duck and rocket salad with a sweetish dressing (raspberry vinegar would work well). The almond paste for the cake freezes beautifully, so make double the amount and stash for next time you fancy an almondy treat.