A gluten-free cake for pudding
Okay, I’m going to hold my hands up in the first sentence and admit that this cake is not particularly healthy – it contains some pretty serious amounts of chocolate, sugar and butter.
But this isn’t any old cake – it’s gluten and also wheat-free.
Rather than using flour, the recipe calls for polenta, which is a dried maize, usually used in Italian cooking.
And there’s no raising agent either. Instead the cake is given a lift with air – after separating five eggs, you beat the living daylights out of the whites with an electric hand whisk until you have stiff peaks. You whisk the yolks too, but in a separate bowl.
So I think this cake can just about sneak into this blog – after all, for anyone who can’t tolerate gluten, for example people with coeliac disease, it could be a rather useful pudding. Besides, everyone needs chocolate from time to time.
I made this cake on my new culinary adventure – a Cooking With Confidence Course at London’s famous Leiths School of Food and Wine.
I’m taking the mid-level course, aimed at home cooks who need a bit of a push to get out of their comfort zone. So far we’ve learned how to make choux pastry, lamb tagine, fillet fish, joint guinea fowl and cook pasta from scratch. It’s been wonderful.
The polenta cake took my baking skills to a new level too.
For example, ‘folding’. I thought that this word meant ‘sort of stirring’. But actually our chef tutor told us that when folding in egg whites, move your spoon through the mixture with a figure-of-eight movement.
And watch that you don’t stir too much or tap the bowl to clear the mix off your spoons – or you risk losing all the air that you just added to the egg whites and yolks with the electric hand whisk.
While I don’t think I’ll ever make it to British Bake-Off, I did manage to stop tapping my bowl long enough to produce a pretty tasty cake, if I say so myself.
Rest assured, it’s delicious. It has a rich, chocolatey taste but is also very moist and gooey inside, so makes a perfect dessert. Fans of chocolate cake, like my five-year-old, can’t get enough.
And no, you can’t taste the polenta.
Chocolate polenta cake recipe
Recipe courtesy of Leiths School of Food & Wine
Serves 6 to 8
Butter for greasing
240g/8.5oz dark chocolate, chopped evenly
120g/4.5oz unsalted butter
60ml/ 2.5fl oz Muscat
5 eggs, separated
150g/ 5.3oz caster sugar
plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar in a separate bowl
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F.
Grease a deep springform cake tin with butter, line the base with buttered greaseproof paper and dust it lightly with cocoa powder.
Soak the polenta in the Muscat.
Place the chocolate and butter into a large pudding basin place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat when melted.
Whisk the egg yolks and 150g of caster sugar together until pale and mousse-like.
Whisk the egg white until stiff, add the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and whisk again until stiff.
Fold the soaked polenta into the now cooled, melted chocolate. Fold in the egg yolk and sugar mixture, and then the egg whites. When thoroughly incorporated, pile it into the prepared cake tin.
Bake for 45 minutes. The cake should look a little wrinkled on the top and a skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate so that it’s upside down.
Dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder. Serve with crème fraîche and fruit.
Disclosure: I was given a free Cooking with Confidence 2 course at Leiths School of Food & Wine for review purposes. For more information on their cooking courses, visit leiths.com.