I’m always hankering for dessert on the fly; “on the fly” because Hank and I have been trying to ditch refined sugar from our diet. So I don’t really plan for dessert, but if I run across an inspiring recipe and I happen to have all the ingredients on hand, I’ll decree that it’s time for an indulgence. And why not? Spontaneity is the spice of life!
I have a mountain of cookbooks, and my most favorites are those with British or Irish authors. Their cooking style and combination of ingredients is the epitome of rustic country cooking and they welcome (rather than challenge) me to try anything they present. This delicious little creature is based on a recipe in Fran Warde’s Food For Friends (Ryland Peters & Small Inc., London, 2002):
Lemon Polenta Cake
1 ½ sticks butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 large organic, unwaxed lemons
¾ cup Italian polenta or yellow cornmeal
¾ cup self-rising flour
1 cup cream or faux cream (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch casserole dish.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.
3. Grate the zest from both lemons and add to the batter. Squeeze the juice from 1 ½ lemons, add to the batter, and slice the remaining half lemon; set aside.
4. Add the polenta or cornmeal, and flour, mix well. Pour batter into buttered dish and arrange the reserved lemon slices around the top.
5. Bake for 35 minutes, until the sides separate from the dish, and a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Serve with a dollop of cream.
I didn’t have heavy whipping cream or ice cream on hand, so I created a substitute with what I did have since eating this cake without a dairy product would’ve been a crime. It was a light, non-cloying accompaniment for the cake.
1 cup sour cream
2 T fine sugar (baker’s sugar)
¼ cup half and half
½ tsp. vanilla (optional)
Combine all ingredients and whisk well. Refrigerate until served.