Polenta is one of those ingredients i’ve known about for a while, but been too nervous to use. The main reason being (and skip this next bit if you’re as impressionable as I am) is that it was historically what was known as gruel, like in Oliver twist, all they ever eat is gruel and so on.
To this day, I don’t think I could stomach it in it’s gloopy, porridge-like form. Although, I don’t tend to like porridge that much either unless it’s a small carb addition to a mountain of fruit.
Back to my first, gruel point; after receiving a pack for my birthday (not your conventional birthday present, I know), I finally made my way round to researching a few recipes and giving it a go myself. It seems the most popular polenta recipe (after the basic porridge form) were variations of the lemon cake and fries (which I’ve also done and will post at another time). So this is my variation of the lemon polenta cake, and the candied lemon was because after watching masterchef i felt inspired to branch out on my cooking techniques.
Ingredients (makes 6):
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp maca (optional, adds a really natural sweet tang)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 dairy alternative spread (i used sunflower based one)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. Preheat the oevn to 180 degrees C.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, polenta, caster and maca, then add the spread. Stir into a paste (it will still be quite flaky and dry), then add the almond milk.
3. Juice and zest half of the lemon. Add the juice, and then add the zest. I only used half of the zest (so a quarter of the lemon), because I don’t like a strong lemon taste. Add the chia seeds, mix evenly then divide into muffin cases, or a greased muffin baking tin.
4. Put in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the cases to cool.
5. Meanwhile, make the drizzle by combining the powdered sugar with the juice from the remaining half of the lemon. Add water if the icing is still too solid.
6. When the cakes have cooled, drizzle the icing with a piping bag or old squeezy bottle, and top with the candied lemon peel.
To make the candied lemon peel:
1.Cut the lemon peel into small pieces, don’t worry about removing the pith, it won’t hinder the taste of the end product.
2. Fill a saucepan with water and add the lemon peels. Bring to the boil, leave for about 45 seconds, then strain. Repeat this 5 more times (yes, 6 times altogether!)
3. Boil some water, then put the granulated sugar in a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of boiling water (the proportions are 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of boiling water)
4. Dissolve the sugar until it becomes a syrup. Dip the lemon peels in the syrup (preferably with tongs), and leave on baking parchment (or some kind of non stick surface). They will harden very quickly!