Thursday, 23 June 2016

Rhubarb, Almond and Polenta Cake (gluten free)

It's been a whole year since I last posted on here, and I feel rather guilty about that. My absence can be partly blamed on my having to change the way I cook and eat thanks to IBS. I've had to cut out gluten and dairy and thus lots of my favourite foods, but over the past year I've gradually tested things out to the point that I now know I can tolerate a small amount of spelt or rye bread, can occasionally treat myself to things made with plain flour (as opposed to strong bread flours) like pastry and cakes and - perhaps there is a god - halloumi. A lot of avocados have been consumed, gluten-free breads have been tasted and rejected while gluten free pasta has been embraced whole-heartedly. Rice has been eaten in all its myriad forms and has always been scrumptious. My new favourite thing is polenta, which I'll talk about more some other time, because the other reason for my absence is also the other reason for this recipe: we bought a house and got a new allotment which, aside from an abundance of bind weed and couch grass is also rich in rhubarb.

I love me some rhubarb. I've yet to make a savoury dish from it, though I've seen plenty of good recipes, but aside from the obvious crumbles it also makes excellent ice-cream and fool and is delicious roasted with brown sugar and served with a meringue nest and some frozen yoghurt. The Guardian has a great sounding recipe for rhubarb tiramisu in their '10 Best...' collection that I really need to try, but a good old cake is often all you really need, and the texture of the polenta makes this seem lighter but way moister than your average sponge. I don't think I made this recipe up entirely, I'm sure it's come together from lots of different sources, and those quantities probably came from somewhere other than my little noggin - but I'll be damned if I can remember where. But enough piffle, here it is, rhubarb polenta cake, with ground almonds for extra moistness and lemon zest to enhance the all round rhubarbiness.* You don't have to use the xanthan gum if you don't want to, but it does help bind things together a little better than just the eggs alone. If you do want to use it and you've never heard of it before, it's a powder that you'll find in a small tub in the free-from section of supermarkets or health food shops.
*definitely not a word

Rhubarb, Almond and Polenta cake

For the rhubarb
350g rhubarb, chopped into approx 2-4cm chunks
50g soft, light brown sugar

Toss the rhubarb and sugar together in a bowl and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

For the cake
225g caster sugar
225g butter
200g ground almonds
125g polenta
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Heat oven to 180C, and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper (I always grease the paper but lots of recipes say to grease the pan, do what you will).
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamed then beat the eggs in one at a time with a little of the polenta to help prevent curdling.
Stir in the rest of the polenta, the ground almonds, lemon zest and xanthan gum if using.
Drain the liquid off the rhubarb - this can be retained to use as a drizzle later if you wish - and fold the rhubarb into the cake mixture.
Spoon the mix into your cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven. Check after 40 minutes and if the top looks a little dark cover it with foil, otherwise, replace as it is and cook for another 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack.