Citrus polenta cake and a little story
I have confess that the art of candying citrus has been somewhat of a sham in this household. My husband tried and failed, I have tried and failed, and yet none of us are quite ready to desist. So I had this idea stuck in my head of a bright yellow cake covered in candied lemon and orange thin slices. And I had to go and make it. But let me explain.
Those slices are not wafer thin, right? Because I was told that they needed some consistency in order to not melt during the candying process. So I went and cut some wafer thin slices and some a bit thicker. And proceed to do the candying. Because I had this thing stuck in my mind of a visually attractive yellow cake.
For the candying I doused them in a bit of water and sugar, brought all to a boil, reduced the heat and just left them there, simmering away. The wafer thin slices broke and became transparent, thus spoiling the colourful effect I was going for, the slightly thicker ones, well, the rind did not cook quite well. Must try this again, and leave them for a little longer.
As for the yellow cake I was dreaming of, well, the little story of the title resides in this. For years I have had this stuck in my head that I would love to try cooking and eating polenta. After all, all those Italians could not be wrong - I mean, they have given us pizza and lasagna, they have given us ossobucco and minestrone, they have given us mozzarella and risotto, how could polenta NOT be good, yummy, paradise? I have to say that they are wrong. Yes, my dear Italy, you are wrong with the polenta. It does not fare well with this household. So I was stuck with a pack of light ground cornmeal, and no idea what to do with it. I started searching the web for cakes made with cornmeal, and came across an orange cornmeal cake by Martha Stewart - that could be made with white wine instead of the orange juice, go figure - and decided to give it a try, just adding lemon to the orange.
I got the bright yellow cake I was aiming for, and even a use for the cornmeal - as it does cater to a slightly crunchy, yummy cake - but next time, I'm giving a slip to the sugar covering, since it is not necessary, it did not caramelize in the oven, and as I checked it, it was not supposed to. I cannot for the life of me fathom a reason to want a caster sugar cover on a cake, if only it was icing sugar, it might make sense, but caster sugar!
The overall look of the cake is quite what I expected it to be, and the flavour is great, at least if you're addicted to citrus-y flavours like I am. The fact that I poured over it the sugar and citrus syrup leftover from the candying of the oranges and lemons - I was actually going to use it for a rum based cocktail, and then decided not to - made it moist and moreish, and if you try a slice of it accompanied by natural homemade yogurt and homemade citrus curd, you're in for a jump straight into Summer time sunshine, that will leave you feeling better for this rainy Spring we're having.