No flour again! After my Spanish Almond Tart with Blood Orange, I got a little hooked on no-flour cakes. I don’t follow a gluten-free diet – luckily, my diet is far from this – it’s just for the fun of it. The texture is different when you work with ground nuts instead of wheat or spelt, it’s more juicy, and here, the polenta adds some crunchiness. I’ve already experimented with a few polenta-almond combinations and enjoyed this one a lot: poppy seeds, ricotta, and lemon. I use ground poppy seeds, they don’t look as pretty in the cake but they have a richer aroma than the whole seeds. The juice and zest from the citrus fruit makes it nice and fresh and helps me to forget that the variety of fruits that I can use for my baking projects is still quite limited. It’s mainly citrus, apple, and pear but I’m coping. Only a few more months left and all those berries will be back in my kitchen.
This weekend, I’m spending some quality time with my mother. It’s carnival and, according to our annual family tradition, we all meet in the countryside to make Berliner (jam filled German doughnuts). We dress up funny (some of us) and listen to silly music, it’s actually so silly that it’s better to drink some wine or Champagne while it’s on to stand its distinct humour. Two years ago, I wrote about this family feast and shared the recipe for our sweet treat. If you’re up for it – carnival isn’t over yet – here’s the recipe. And if you prefer the Greek version, here are my Loukoumades with Honey, Cinnamon, and Pistachios.
Ricotta Polenta Almond Cake with Poppy Seeds and Lemon
ground skin-on almonds 150g / 5 1/2 ounces
fine polenta 80g / 3 ounces
baking powder 2 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
unsalted butter, at room temperature, 100g / 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons
granulated sugar 200g / 1 cup
organic eggs 4
fresh ricotta 100g / 3 1/2 ounces
freshly grated lemon zest 3 tablespoons
freshly squeezed lemon juice 3 tablespoons
poppy seeds (preferably ground) 50g / 2 ounces
For the topping
icing sugar, sifted
freshly grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting). Butter a 20-cm / 8-inch springform pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between until creamy. Add the ricotta, lemon zest, and juice and beat for about 1 minute until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the almond-polenta mixture and the poppy seeds until well combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden brown and firm on top. If you insert a skewer in the centre of the cake, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then take it out of the pan. Dust with icing sugar and sprinkle with a little lemon zest.