Living on the other side of the Equator calls for a re-shift of not only one’s wardrobe but also lifestyle. I’ve talked before about how moods influence the way I cook. Like many others, what goes on my plate is often influenced by the way I feel or the weather outside. Residing in Singapore after living previously in England has meant adjusting to the climate (over 80% humidity), the high cost of food (I’m talking imported western food) and the idea that Christmas was for the first time in our lives going to be spent on our balcony, al fresco. This was possibly what made me realise that life on this side of the world is fundamentally different.
I am aware that we all have a tendency to talk about the weather. It seems to be a subject globally used to introduce a conversation, fill awkward blanks or simply an excuse made to explain one’s bad mood. Whatever the weather is used for, it very much influences what goes on our plates. While Winter has comfortably settled into the northern hemisphere crying out for comfy food and hearty cakes, baking habits are somewhat different here. Turning the oven on may be viewed as torture for some. For me it is a necessity. I may not be feeling like baking a bread and butter pudding but I cannot resist the call of my usual weekend baking. I’ve just had to re-organise my recipe folder and accept that casseroles are only for rainy days.
This honey, lavender, almond and polenta cake is just what I am craving for at the moment. Its ingredients and flavours remind me of the South of France and Italy when bathed by a warm and sunny climate; my favourite time of the year. Whilst TV footages and photographs from back home report but fail to transport one into a wintery mood, why resist to a summery looking cake? If wherever you are in the world, this recipe doesn’t feel right and appropriated to the mood you’re in, bookmark it for when the sun shines again. It will be soon enough.
Honey, almond, lavender and polenta cake
Adapted from Woman&Home
(Ingredients can easily be doubled)
115g unsalted butter, softened
80g light brown caster sugar
20g lavender sugar
12g self raising, sifted
90g ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp runny honey
1/2 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 170ºC, 150ºC fan, gas mark 3.
Grease a 20cm cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time. If the mixture curdles, add one tablespoon of flour. Whisk well. Add the polenta, flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Mix till just combined but smooth. Stir in the honey and almond extract. Transfer to the cake tin.
Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on you oven. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out moist but with no mixture on. Leave to cook then transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with icing sugar.