May 18 2004

Birthday Cake

The strawberries in the garden are in flower but no fruit yet so I’m afraid I cheated and bought lots and lots to go with the Polenta Almond and Lemon Cake I made for a friend’s birthday last week. The crunchiness of the cake goes so well with the delicious luxuriousness of strawberries and cream.

First prepare the cake tin by lining with baking parchment. Preheat the oven.

For the cake take 25gms unsalted butter and 225 gms vanilla flavoured caster sugar *and beat hard with a wooden spoon till pale and light, or whiz in the food processor. Stir in 225gms ground almonds. Now beat in 3 eggs one at a time. Fold in the zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1 lemon, 80gms of polenta and 75gm of plain flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and a good pinch of salt. If the mixture seems very runny add a little more flour and polenta. It depends on the size of your eggs. It should be the consistency of stiff batter.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake at 160C/325F/ gas 3 for 45-50 minutes. My range has a hot oven which is too hot and a cool oven that is too cool so I bake in the bottom oven slowly till the cake is set! Test with a skewer. If it comes out of the cake clean, the cake is cooked. Turn the cake out onto a wire tray to cool.

Place the cake on a large dish, surround with strawberries drizzled with thick cream, and sprinkle with icing sugar.

* Vanilla sugar: keep caster sugar and a vanilla pod in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and the sugar will absorb the glorious flavour of the pod.

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