Mr Happy’s sunshine cake

Mr Happy’s sunshine cake

By
From
Citrus
Serves
12-16
Photographer
Mowie Kay

The combination of lemon and polenta here ensures that when you cut through the crust of the cake you find a mood-lifting, sunny interior, just the sort of thing to eat on a gloomy winter’s day when you want to snuggle on the sofa with a cosy blanket and a big mug of tea.

This cake is usually made with a mixture of cornmeal and ground almonds, which is lovely – but I wanted to include at least one cake that is very economical, and this one is if you aren’t forking out for almonds. If you do want to include almonds, substitute half the cornmeal. Oh, and the syrup is strictly optional.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
200g butter, softened, plus 2 tablespoons, plus extra for greasing
175g golden caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 lemons, Finely grated zest
300g cornmeal or polenta, (a fine, slightly sandy textured one)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs

For the syrup (optional)

Quantity Ingredient
2 lemons, juiced
125g icing sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23cm round, loose-bottomed cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together in a bowl, until the volume has dramatically increased and the texture is soft and airy.
  3. Mix the cornmeal or polenta with the baking powder. Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar one at a time with a couple of tablespoons of the cornmeal, beating well between each addition, then add the rest of the cornmeal. The mixture will be fairly dry, certainly not as loose as a dropping consistency. Don’t worry, this is as it should be.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and smooth over a little. Bake in the oven for around 35–40 minutes, until it is a deep golden brown and has shrunk away from the sides of the cake tin.
  5. Meanwhile, make the syrup, if using. Put the lemon juice and icing sugar into a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the texture is syrupy. While the cake is still hot, pierce the top all over with a cocktail stick or something similarly pointy. Pour the syrup over the cake as evenly as possible. Leave to cool completely before serving, with a dollop of crème fraîche, if you like.

Variations

  • I have made this with most citrus and find lemon works best, but grapefruit (using the juice of just 1 grapefruit) also works beautifully. I also like adding other flavours to the syrup. Try finely ground cardamom with the lemon, and rosemary with the grapefruit.
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