Do you have seasonal food memories?
The first sight of a thorny bundle of blackberry leaves and flowers sends me straight to thoughts of summer evening walks; tupperware in hand, hypercolour t-shirt on proud display (showing my age, here). Blackberry and apple crumble with custard was the defining taste of Sunday lunch in our house, from late summer to early Autumn.
This Bramble Polenta Cake is without a doubt my love for blackberries enshrined.
Hot on the heels of my most recent foray into re-imagined traditional desserts – the Quinoa Cherry Bakewell – this cake has all the flavours of your favourite blackberry pudding, with some lovely new ingredient twists.
This cake is:
- the taste of blackberries and custard;
- fragrant and herby with thyme;
- sweet, but not overpoweringly so; and
- light, airy, soft and delicate.
I don’t often associate polenta cake with lightness; it is often a dense, crumbly and rich cake (as it should be). But, in wanting to create something that was a little different, and more of a bright, juicy morsel, I played around with swapping the more traditional mix of polenta and almonds for gram flour.
And oh, did it pay off!
The sponge is so light, yet creamy with a satisfying little squidge too. It is a true delight.
I’ve also been experimenting with different egg replacers, for those of you who want to try out vegan baking, but might not have ground flax seeds in the cupboard. Knowing that banana and apple purée both work well as vegan ‘eggs’, I turned my attention to soft stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. And, after testing different amounts and combinations, I can happily report that they work incredibly well!
The combination of nectarines, olive oil and maple syrup puréed together not only give this cake it’s wonderful texture, but also it’s intriguing taste of custard – or perhaps that’s just the wizardry of baking.
Whatever the magic behind it, this is such a tasty cake! And one that you can enjoy guilt-free. It’s:
- refined sugar-free;
- light on the oil;
- dairy, egg and gluten-free;
- perfect for just two – baking it in a small pan works really well and you’re not stuck with lots of leftovers; and
- it only takes five minutes to prepare. Five minutes!!
This is definitely my new favourite way to enjoy blackberries – what’s yours?
- 25g polenta (cornmeal)
- 50g gram flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 heaped tsp dried thyme
- Pinch Himalayan pink (or other good) salt
- 2 nectarines, de-stoned
- 1 tbsp maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 10 fresh blackberries
- Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Sift the polenta, gram flour, baking powder, thyme and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the blackberries and set aside.
- Blitz the nectarines, maple syrup, olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth.
- Tip the wet ingredients into the dry and stir gently until all combined and you have a smooth batter.
- Pour the mixture into a 5 inch loose-base fluted tart pan, evening out the top with a spatula.
- Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. As polenta cakes tend to brown during cooking, cover with foil towards the end if you want a lighter colour (I usually check after 40 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool before removing from the pan.
- Serve with fresh blackberries, coconut yoghurt or custard. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.
To ensure this is gluten-free, use a gluten-free baking powder.
If you don't have loose-based pan, a parchment-lined tin will work just as well.
**This post was kindly sponsored by Seasonal Berries. The recipe and all content is my own**