From the Whiteboard Wishlist: Rosemary Lavender Polenta Cake

When Team APB sits down to lunch, the conversation almost always revolves around food; an interesting dinner last night, a sudden, urgent craving for a dish, a genius flavour pairing or a plan to make such and such dish. After a few weeks, it became apparent that these grand plans would eventually fade into thin air unless they were recorded. That’s how the Whiteboard Wish list was born. Any time someone had a fabulous idea or dish to make, they were supposed to jot it down on the board for later. Each addition forms part of our Studio Chef Srishti’s agenda and each time she cooks up our desires, it will be posted up here for you.

This series begins with an elegant, summery cake that combines elements from French and Italian cuisine into a delicious tea cake. Polenta is coarsely pulverized corn meal that is a staple of Italian home-style food. It is typically served as part of a savoury main course with roasted vegetables, slow cooked meats or even fried into crispy polenta fingers. However here, Chef Srishti has appropriated polenta and super fine almond powder as an alternative to the usual refined flour in this cake. By doing so, the cake takes on an interesting, crunchy texture and flavour. She has taken the Italian connection even further with the addition of fresh, chopped rosemary. Its delicate yet distinct flavour combines with the lavender to create an intriguing aroma that’s present in every bite.

Now lavender is a pretty flower that grows all over Europe but particularly in the southern regions of France. Famous for the shade of purple named after its natural colour, this flower is also popular for its unique fragrance. Since its one of the many edible flowers available here, Chef Srishti chose to pair this aromatic with the rosemary. This recipe makes use of the dried buds but fresh lavender can be used as well. (A note of caution though, when working with lavender, less is always more. There is a fine line of difference between aromatic and an unpleasant, soapy experience.)

This particular recipe relies on the use of olive oil and 5 eggs for a rich, tender crumb which may seem excessive but is really worth it. This flavour riot is topped off with an orange infused syrup that brings all the elements together while also adding moistness to the cake.

This is the kind of goodie Team APB loves; unusual, savoury-sweet and light. We think it would pair beautifully with a cup of freshly brewed Earl Grey or Darjeeling tea.

If you make this cake, have a suggestion for our Whiteboard Wishlist or any other questions, please do leave a comment below.

Rosemary-Lavender Polenta Cake

Ingredients

½ cup Butter, room temperature +1tbsp for greasing
6tbsp fresh Rosemary, chopped
4tbsp dried Lavender
3/4cups+2tbsp quick cooking Polenta
1cup Super fine Almond powder
2tsp Baking powder
1tsp Salt
½ cup Olive oil
5 Eggs
2 Egg yolks
½ tsp Vanilla essence
1¼ cup Caster sugar

For the Syrup

1cup Orange juice
2tbsp Sugar
1tsp Rosemary, chopped
11/2tsp dried Lavender

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oCelsius.
Grease a bundt pan with the butter.
Sprinkle 2tbsp polenta and 2tbsp rosemary over the butter.
(Doing this will give the cake an interesting crunch.)

In a mixing bowl, stir together the almond powder, polenta, remaining rosemary and the lavender.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla with the oil. Whisk till the mixture is frothy.
Beat the ½ cup butter along with the sugar till its light and fluffy.
Add the egg mixture and whisk till blended properly.
Then add the dry ingredients in 3 parts while folding gently after each addition.
Scrape the batter into the mould and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
After 10 minutes, unmould the cake and let it cool down completely.

In a saucepan, combine the orange juice, sugar, rosemary and dried lavender.
Over medium heat, reduce this mixture to half.
Strain the syrup and use to drizzle over the cake.
Brush the cake while its still warm for best results.

You can also drizzle it with a mild icing for an impressive look.