This week I found two new uses for the leftover almond meal from my little almond milk factory. Waste-not; want-not and all that.
The first was as a breading for Terakihi filets for dinner one night. I coated the filets in the almond meal and then dipped them in whisked egg and pan fried in coconut oil. Pretty damn tasty with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of home-made tartare sauce.
The second recipe is for this really simple and really yummy lemony polenta cake. I found a recipe on a Nigella Lawson site, don’t you love it when you have all the ingredients already and don’t have to go out and buy anything. I subbed out half the sugar content for Manuka honey and the syrup called for icing sugar so I used honey and water instead.
Honey vs. Sugar
Honey and sugar contain basically the same molecules – fructose and glucose – but there is some thought that honey might be slightly less bad for us, for a variety of reasons. I found an article that simplifies the explanation. Anyway, I’m not going to kid myself that by using honey instead of sugar I’m making this recipe super healthy – sugar is sugar is sugar. It’s just nice to think that perhaps you’re getting a few antioxidants from the Manuka.
Polenta cakes are commonplace in Italy and have been around for ages. They seem to be becoming popular with the gluten-freeists as you’re using cornmeal and almond meal instead of the usual cake base – white flour. This means a lot of people have been describing these style of cakes as ‘healthy cakes’. While the health benefits of avoiding white flour as much as poss in your diet are well documented, this is still a cake. It’s still sugar, butter, carbs so not for every day consumption. Although during the holidays it seems pretty much impossible to avoid sweets and being pregnant my willpower is about a third of its usual strength.
This cake was moist, crumbly and had almost a lemon curdy vibe to it. The polenta adds a nutty texture to it which I really like. It has a fresh, sharp taste and isn’t too sweet. I served it with fresh cherries and wipped cream. There was only one slice left at the end of the night, so I had that for brekkie the next day. Why not?? It’s a healthy cake after all…
For the cake
- 200g unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 cup Manuka honey
- 2 cups almond meal
- 3/4 cup fine polenta (I only had corse polenta at home so used the coffee grinder to make it finer)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (use gluten free if required)
- 3 large eggs
- Zest of two lemons (save juice for syrup)
For the syrup
- Juice of two lemons
- 3/4 cup Manuka honey
- 1/2 cup water
- Line the base of a 23cm / 9inch springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F.
- Beat the butter, honey, sugar till pale and whipped. I use a freestanding mixer and beat for a solid few minutes.
- Mix together the almond meal, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar-honey mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
- Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
- Once out of oven the cake may still seem a bit wobbly but, if it is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin and let cool for 30 mins.
- Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice, honey and water in a smallish saucepan. Boil for a couple of minutes to dissolve honey.
- Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester (a skewer would be too destructive), pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool before taking it out of its tin. If you like you can keep a bit of the syrup to serve with the cake.
You can decorate this cake so many different ways – with lemon slices, almond slivers, fruit, powdered sugar. I served with a little fresh cream which complimented the lemony-ness perfectly. I will definitely be making this again. And again.