A small bowl of summer berries and a lonely lemon were languishing on my countertop this morning…
And it’s Monday. If any day needs cake, it’s Monday.
I have been a little leery of baking cakes in the two-oven AGA. Today, I set out to conquer my fear, and with one of my favourite cakes – a Lemon & Berry Polenta Cake. It’s a simple cake, and ideal for building confidence in AGA baking skills.
Fragrant lemon and ripe berries are the stars of this buttery, light cake. And I love the polenta-crunchy edge.
When asked his opinion, my Best Beloved described it as, “A light, lemony sponge with fruity flavour bombs. Yummy.”
Guess I’ll go with that!
Lemon & Berry Polenta Cake
This is a light, lemony, fruity, delicious cake.
In a two-oven AGA, position a rack at the bottom of the Roasting Oven, and have the plain shelf ready to use. Or set conventional oven to 350f/180c.
Lightly butter a 25 cm cake tin (10 in cake pan) and line the bottom with a circle of baking parchment. Lightly flour the sides of the pan, tapping out the excess. Set the pan aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk or sieve together the dry ingredients - flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
In a large bowl (using a stand mixer or hand mixer), beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time and stir until just blended. Don't worry if it looks a bit 'curdled', it'll be okay!
Using either a large metal spoon or a spatula, fold in half of dry ingredients, then add milk & lemon juice, then fold in the final half of the dry ingredients.
Pour batter into prepared tin, spreading evenly.
Place cold Plain Sheet on second set of runners in Roasting Oven, and put the filled cake tin on the grid on the oven bottom. Close the door and set your timer for 15 minutes.
During those 15 minutes, combine the berries and the remaining flour and sugar. Also, you may want to have a cup of tea, or check your social media.
When the timer alerts you that 15 minutes have passed, carefully slide the cake out of the oven, leaving the door ajar. Scatter the berries over the cake, evenly. (Discard any remaining flour mixture.
Carefully slide cake back into oven and continue baking it for another 15 minutes. Then turn cake around and back another 5 minutes, or until a cake tester (skewer, toothpick...) comes out clean from centre of cake.
Cool cake in the tin for 15 minutes. Then gently run a knife around the inside edge of the tin to make sure it is loose. Invert the cake over a rack and peel off the parchment.
Lay a flat serving plate on the bottom of the cake and carefully flip the cake once more, so that the berries are on top. Lovely.
Serve the cake warm (if, like us, you have been overwhelmed by buttery fumes and cannot help yourself) or at room temperature.
You could substitute buttermilk for the milk. You could also use other fruits: maybe fresh figs with orange instead of lemon, apricots with blackberries... Or you could leave the fruit out and enjoy a beautiful, simple lemon polenta cake.