The first time I remember eating Mexican food was in that well-known Hispanic enclave, Loughborough, when I was a student many years ago. In those days, even tortilla chips were hard to get hold of and I felt quite hip eating such an unusual cuisine. I fell in love with the vibrant punchy flavours and have never looked back. These corn spinach polenta triangles may not be authentic Mexican cuisine, but they are certainly inspired by it.
The task this month from Belleau Kitchen was to select our 30th cookbook and then make the recipe from whatever was on page 30 – this is the 30th RR after all. I always approach Random Recipes with some trepidation as you just never know what you might get landed with, but off I went to Eat Your Books to find my 30th cookbook. In case you’ve missed it, I have a giveway running at the moment for a lifetime’s membership of Eat Your Books – I can’t recommend it highly enough. As it happened, I struck lucky and my 30th book was Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. For many years, this was the only book on my bookshelf dedicated to baking, so I know it well. Now that I have many others, I don’t use it as often; I was glad to be persuaded to renew my acquaintance. It also meant, that with any luck I might be able to enter this into Forever Nigella.
The next task was to go and find the book and turn to page 30 – Rhubarb Cornmeal Cake. Now this couldn’t have been more opportune. I made this cake once before, many years ago, so I already knew it was a good one. I was shortly to be baking for Liskeard’s first pop-up cafe and was wondering what gluten-free bake I could include. With a little tweaking, namely substituting the wheat flour for buckwheat, this would do very nicely, I thought. The addition of white chocolate could only improve things and would allow it to appear on Chocolate Log Blog. I’ve already established that rose and rhubarb make for a fine combination, so I wanted to include some rose syrup here for added interest.
So this is how I made:
Rhubarb and Rose Polenta Cake
- Washed and trimmed the rhubarb, cutting it into ½ cm slices.
- Placed in a bowl and covered with 100g of cardamom sugar (caster) to extract some of the juice. Added 4 tbsp rose syrup.
- Melted 50g white chocolate (G&B) in a bowl over hot water.
- Creamed 125g unsalted butter with 150g cardamom sugar (caster) until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the cooled chocolate.
- Beat in 2 large duck eggs, one at a time.
- Sifted in 150g buckwheat flour, 155g fine cornmeal, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, ¼ tsp salt and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
- Stirred in 250g natural yogurt alternately with the flour until just combined.
- Gently stirred in the rhubarb and juice.
- Poured into a 23cm cake mould and baked at 180° C for about 50 minutes until the top was well risen and springy to the touch.
- Covered with tin foil after the first 30 minutes to prevent the top burning.
- Left to cool for 20 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted with icing sugar and scattered with rose petals.
The bake came an honourable second behind the most popular one, the chocolate cake. Sadly, I didn’t get to try any, but I had very good feedback and all of it disappeared. The very first person to try anything was gluten intolerant, so she was delighted to have something tasty she could eat.
For those not in the know, Honeybuns is a gluten free bakery selling all types of cakes and biscuits throughout the UK. Established by the appropriately named Emma Goss-Custard in Oxford in 1998, Honeybuns has moved from a lone bicycle delivering homemade cakes, to a company employing 25 people. It is now located at Naish Farm in Dorset, where a nature reserve has taken the place of conventional agricultural activities and the farm buildings have been converted into a bakery. An old chicken shed now houses the Bee Shack cafe, which claims to serve the best gluten free cream tea in Dorset. Canny punters head there to get their fix. For those keen to try this exclusive experience, make sure you turn up on the first Saturday of every month – that’s the only day it’s open.
Since I started my blog over three years ago, I have only made one of my three go to chocolate cake recipes from pre blog days. This is not one of them. Using polenta and ground almonds, it is completely gluten free, which makes it an ideal cake to make for mass gatherings. It is also rich and delicious – or so I remember it anyway. Sadly neglected, I’d been meaning to make a raspberry version ever since Divine sent me a bar of their 70% dark chocolate with raspberries.
However, I needed a gluten free cake for the Vital Spark book swap event, I helped out with last month, just in case. When I was trying to decide what to make, Charlotte of Go Free Cakes suggested the Pink Whisk’s clementine polenta cake. Brilliant idea which reminded me of my very own chocolate version. And Fair Trade Fortnight had only just finished, so a particularly apt time to use the Divine bar. No more thinking required.
This is what I did:
- Melted 150g unsalted butter in a large pan over a low heat.
- Added 100g Divine’s 70% dark chocolate with raspberries.
- Added 150g dark muscovado sugar.
- Stirred until all melted and combined then left to cool a little.
- Beat in 2 duck egg yolks and 1 tbsp redcurrant liqueur (rather than Marsala or brandy)
- Sieved in 75g ground almonds, 75g fine polenta and 30g cocoa powder (G&B) and stirred into the chocolate mixture.
- Whisked 2 duck egg whites until stiff, then folded into the batter.
- Poured into a 21cm cake mould and baked at 180C for 30 minutes when the top was firm to the touch.
This is such a simple cake to make and it performs so well, I don’t quite understand why I haven’t made it for such a long time. It was as dark, rich and delicious as I remembered. The raspberry chocolate gave a subtle fruity note, but wasn’t as noticeable as I would have hoped. One person attending the event was indeed a celiac and she was so delighted there was something there that she could eat, it really made my day.
NB 13/4/12 I have been made aware that there is no guarantee that the chocolate and possibly other products used in the recipe are 100% gluten free. This is because Divine chocolate is produced in a factory where products containing gluten are made and this could be the case for other things too, such as the polenta. You can see their disclosure on their site.
New challenges are popping up all over the place at the moment and I can’t keep up. However, Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes recently revived an old event, Bookmarked Recipes, founded by Ruth of Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments. The idea is to actually use some of those recipes we all bookmark and then somehow don’t get around to actually using – I have an awful lot of those. Recently, I saw a post on honey cornbread on Black Book Kitchen Diaries and for some reason it immediately appealed and I bookmarked it. Unusually, it hasn’t been hanging around that long in my bookmarked folder either. On day 9 of a summer cold (I wrote this a while ago and am happy to report the cold only lasted 15 days!) and feeling rather lacking in energy, I wanted to make something really quick and easy. This fitted the bill: throw the dried ingredients together and then add the wet – simples! The original recipe comes from All Recipes, but I’ve adapted it from the American measures, replaced the vegetable oil with olive oil and also added some chocolate – how could I not? This is how I did it:
- Sifted 125g wholemeal flour, 130g fine polenta, 30g caster sugar and 1 scant tbsp baking powder into a bowl.
- Chopped 50g 70% dark chocolate and mixed this into the flour.
- Made a well in the middle and broke 2 duck eggs into it.
- Started to mix these in, adding 3 level tbsp runny honey and 50ml olive oil as I went.
- Mixed in 225ml double cream.
- Poured into a 9″ x 9″ square mould and baked at 180C for 25 mins.
- Spooned a little honey onto the hot cake and spread this around to give it a shiny top.
- Left to cool then cut into 16 pieces.
This is a fantastically rich cake that I have made many times before – it’s easy, tastes great and has never yet let me down.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (gas 4)
- Melt 100g dark chocolate (70% or even 85%) with 150g unsalted butter and 150g muscovado sugar in a pan on very low heat.
- Sieve 30g cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and add 75g fine polenta and 75g ground almonds.
- Make a well in the centre and add melted chocolate mixture (this is generally how I do most of my cakes as I find creaming rock hard butter a real pain and baking is something I usually do quite spontaneously so am rarely organised enough to get it out of the fridge and into a warm place well in advance).
- Mix in together with 2 eggs yolks and 1 tbsp Marsala (or brandy)
- Whisk 2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.
- Bake in a 20cm prepared round cake tin for 30 mins or until firm to the touch.
- Cool on a wire rack.
- Sprinkle with a little sieved icing sugar and serve with raspberries