Please allow me this bright and promising Monday morning to keep it one hundred percent real with you. While this gluten free cake was buttery, nutty, bright with the flavor of lemon and perfectly sweet, the truth is, it ended up all over my floor. Well… ok, bits on the floor, chunks on the counter, and pieces in my dirty sink. Basically, this cake landed everywhere except the cake plate where I wanted it.
I salvaged a few if the larger pieces to mock up a pretty picture for you. For a few moments I thought I might not even tell you about my cake accident. But… see, my cake didn’t just land on the floor because I’m clumsy, but because I was taking baking liberties that I shouldn’t have. Fact.
This cake taught me a small lesson about baking pan choices and cooking times. It also helped me get my cake dropping out of the way for the next several months. I only drop a cake every three months or so. I feels good to be free and clear for a few months to come.
Here’s what you should know about this cake. The crumb is held together with butter, almond flour and eggs. While the cake is full of great flavor, it’s a bit crumbly. To best work with the crumb of this cake, I think it would be best baked in mini loaf pans, or mini bundt pans, or those long and skinny loaf pans (6×2 1/2-inches) if you have them. Cupcakes also worked out well, baking for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges were nice and brown. Regular sized, larger loaf pans will most likely create a cake that is sunken in the middle. Bundt pans.. well that’s how I dropped my cake on the floor… no good.
When it comes to baking this beauty, you might be surprised when I say: longer is better. We’re not looking for a lightly colored American style cake here. We’re looking for a French brown: a baked good left to bake until the sides are beautifully dark brown. I think the longer cooking time will help the crumb stay together better.
I’m thinking my mistakes will help you create a better cake. Go on… bake away!
Gluten Free Lemon, Almond and Polenta Cake
2 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing pans
2 1/4 cups sugar
grated zest of four lemons
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 1/2 cups ground almonds
2 cups polenta
1/2 cup rice or corn flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Butter eight mini bread tins and line the bottoms with parchment paper, or line 3 cupcake pans with foil cupcake liners.
Measure out the sugar and lemon zest. With the back of a spoon or a plastic bench knife, rub the lemon zest into the sugar, creating a lemony and fragrant sugar. Beat the butter and sugar until very light and creamy. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition.
Mix together the flour, ground almonds, polenta, rice or corn flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the butter mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes (20-25 minutes for cupcakes) or until a knife inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool the cakes in their tins before taking them out.
Sift some powdered sugar over the cooled cakes for decoration.