I’ve been thinking about this cake all week. Sitting at my desk, occasionally glazing over in front of my spreadsheets and dreaming of sticky, syrupy blueberry cake with a hint of lavender.
It’s always worrying when you dwell on a recipe so much, without actually having made it, by Friday night the fear of disappointment was upon me. I already felt defeated as I started to whip up the batter and boil the syrup. The overnight wait to test the cake was almost unbearable!
On saturday morning, after the last photograph had been taken, it was finally time for my first taste. Not to sound immodest, although I often do, but this cake blew me away, pure and simple.
The syrup renders the cake incredibly moist but miraculously not achingly sweet. The blueberries provide little bursts of gorgeousness and the lavender gives a subtle floral back note. It has a beautiful lightness to it making it highly tempting to scoff way too much!
If I do say so myself this is one of the best cakes I’ve ever made, although to be fair, I’m always extremely partial to an almond cake of any kind. Remember the Gluten-Free Venetian Carrot Cake? Well it’s gorgeousness might just have been surpassed!
The key step in making this cake amazingly moist and sticky is the same as for a good lemon drizzle cake, basically drenching it in syrup.
As soon as the cake is out of the oven, you boil up a mixture of 2 parts sugar to one part water and a sprinkling of dried lavender flowers. Then, after pricking the cake all over with a cake tester (or a stick of spaghetti if you don’t have a cake tester, top tip!) you pour the syrup all over the warm cake.
It looks like a ridiculous amount of syrup, but trust me, by the time the cake is fully cooled, it will have eagerly sucked up all of the syrup and you’ll be left with the most delightfully moist cake you could ever dream of. Just try to remember, it’s good to share.
Gluten-Free Blueberry Polenta Cake with Lavender Syrup
Heavily adapted from the Lemon Polenta Cake in Nigella’s Kitchen
Makes one cake with approximately 16 slices
For the cake:
200g softened unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
200g golden caster sugar
200g ground almonds
100g fine polenta/cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs
For the syrup:
125g icing sugar
120ml cold water
2 tsps dried lavender, crushed up slightly in a pestle and mortar
Preheat your oven to 180C / 160C Fan / 350F. Grease and line the bottom of a 9inch round springform baking tin, and grease the sides too.
Either in a stand mixer, or by hand, beat together the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder.
Add roughly a third of the almond mixture into the butter and sugar and mix thoroughly, then add an egg and mix again. Repeat until all of the almond mix and all 3 of the eggs have been added.
Finally stir through the blueberries (I actually mixed my blueberries with a tiny bit of the polenta before adding them, to try and stop them sinking through the batter as the cake cooks, it seemed to work…)
Spread the batter evenly in the baking tin and pop the tin into the oven for 40 minutes. At the end of the cooking time it should be pulling away from the sides of the tin ever so slightly and when you insert a toothpick it should come out fairly clean. (I kept hitting blueberries when I inserted my toothpick, but the sides were starting to pull away, so I decided to remove it)
Put the baking tin on a cooling rack and start making the syrup. Put all of the syrup ingredients into a small saucepan over a high heat, boil them briefly whilst swishing them around in the pan, once the sugar has melted the syrup is ready.
Prick the cake all over with either a cake tester, a stick of spaghetti or a toothpick, then pour the hot syrup all over the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely before removing it from the tin.
This cake keeps really well in an airtight container for a few days and according to Nigella it freezes well once cooled. Enjoy!