Polenta . part viii . almond polenta cake

. Sweet polenta ideas from Biagio d’Angelo . 

Polenta is the new yellow and my Marostica memories 

You might been to the small town of Marostica, one of the most fascinating and romantic places in the Veneto, famous for it’s real-life chess game event. Back in my university days I had the luck to actually live there. It was here that I became friends with Claudio, a true artist and art critic, who decided to Economics to make his family happy, despite his aesthetic heart. Many years have passed since then, but I it is with Claudio that reminisce, sharing the marvelous memories of our university days.

Claudio tells me that although many are familiar with his home town, I lived the life of a “prince” with the place. Allow me explain what he meant. When I was a student, I was unable to travel home to Sicily very often to stay with my parents, so I spent many a grateful weekend at Claudio’s parents’ house. It was here that I enjoyed holidays and late nights, where Daniela cut my hair, where I made my first meringue and ate nonna Maria’s crêpes. . . .Much later, when I broke my arm and couldn’t stay alone in my apartment in Venice, I sought refuge once again to Marostica, where Claudio’s parents and sister welcomed me like a son.

It is with a great sense of nostalgia and appreciation that I dedicate this country-style dessert from the Veneto to all of them, as well at to Maria and Lorenzo. I am referring to a simple cake made with cornmeal, soft wheat flour and ground almonds, which when combined, make for a beautiful crumb with a pleasingly grainy texture. My recipe is actually a rendition from Anna del Conte ’s book “Italian Kitchen”, published in 2012.

Ingredients . for an oblong cake tin 23 cm in length or a round cake form of the same diameter

  • 120 grams of peeled almonds
  • 125 grams of unsalted butter . cut in pieces . at room temperature
  • 125 granulated sugar 
  •  75  grams 00 wheat flour 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • the zest of one organic lemon 
  • 100 grams coarse cornmeal flour for polenta .
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • a pinch of sea salt 
  • 10 grams of unsalted butter for the tart form 
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs 
  • powdered sugar to decorate 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius with the fan on. Layer the almonds on a baking platter covered with parchment paper, and toast them in the oven about ten minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove the almonds from the oven and allow them to cool. Grind the almonds briefly in a food processor, into a coarse, even texture, making sure not to turn them into a powder.

Wash the lemon in warm water, and peel its bright yellow skin with a citrus zester. Rub the cake tin on the bottom and sides with butter and dust it with breadcrumbs. Separate the egg yolks from the white and add them to the whole eggs, then whisk them briefly in a small bowl. Mix the butter and sugar until smooth and creamy with a hand mixer or food processor. Place the flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Fold the sugar and butter through the dry ingredients. Add the eggs, then mix well until all ingredients are well incorporated. 

Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake it approximately 45 minutes, or until cooked completely in the middle when tested with a skewer. The cake will have let loose around the edges and will be springy  to the touch. Allow the cake to cool before removing it from the tin. To serve, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and enjoy !

Sincerely, Biagio .

author of gloggtheblog.com ”

Suggested combinations 

Serve a slice of this rustic cake with a cup of tea or a strong espresso.

Notes 

This concludes the eight part series of recipes with polenta created by Biagio and myself in February 2021.

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