Saturday, July 7, 2012
Nigel Slater's Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake
The other day I found what must have been the last stalks of rhubarb available anywhere and when I saw them I remembered that I had been planning to bake Nigel Slater´s Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake one more time before all of the rhubarb has completely disappeared from the markets and I have to wait until next spring to be able to buy some more.
Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake
(as adapted from Nigel Slater's column in The Observer Magazine and “Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard”, published April 10, 2012)
Ingredients for the Rhubarb Filling
500g (1 pound) rhubarb
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
4 tbsp water
Ingredients for the Cake
125g (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) medium or coarse cornmeal/polenta
200g (1 1/3 cups) AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, from Ceylon, if possible
150g (3/4 cup) superfine sugar
grated zest of a small organic orange
150 g (1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, L
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp coarse sugar mixed together with some pure vanilla sugar
For Serving (optional)
Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream (that´s what the kids liked) or crème fraîche
A dusting of confectioner`s sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and grease a 20cm / 8in cake pan, preferably loose-bottomed or springform.
2. Trim the rhubarb and cut into pieces a couple of inches long. Put them in a baking dish with the sugar and water and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft but still retains its shape.
3. Drain the fruit and set aside. Reserve the juice to serve with the cake.
4. Put the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor.
5. Add the grated orange zest and the butter. If using your hands, rub the butter in as if making pastry - until the mixture resembles large crumbs. If you are using a food processor you just need to process for a few seconds.
6. Break the egg into a small bowl and mix with the milk. Now add slowly to the crumble mix, stopping as soon as everything has come together to form a soft, sticky dough. You may not need all the liquid, or you may need a little more milk to get the right consistency.
7. Press about two thirds of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the cake pan, pushing the dough a bit up the sides of the pan. Place the rhubarb on top, being careful to leave a small rim around the edges uncovered.
8. Crumble the rest of the mixture over the fruit using your fingers - don't worry if the fruit isn't all covered. Scatter over the sugar/vanilla sugar mixture.
9. Bake the cake for about 40 to 45 minutes.
10. Cool the cake a few minutes before removing from the pan.
11. Dust with confectioner´s sugar (optinal).
12. Serve the cake with some whipped cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream and the reserved rhubarb juice.
This simple little cake has a nice crunchy texture and is certainly not overly sweet. The kids liked it with some sweetened whipped cream, my husband and I preferred the crème fraîche/rhubarb juice version. If you like cornmeal and rhubarb, this is a good comfort food style of cake.