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Amor polenta is traditionally baked in a half-round, ribbed loaf tin; but any loaf tin will do. It is quick to make, as all the ingredients are worked in the mixer bowl, nevertheless, the result is a moist and light sponge, rustic and with a little bite. The batter only includes a minimal amount of leavening agent; most of the spongy structure is the result of the vigorous whipping of the eggs, so do not cut this step short.
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Amor Polenta Sponge Cake
For the sponge:
- 150 g (5½oz) egg (about 3 medium eggs), at room temperature
- 120 g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 100 g scant ½ cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- zest of 1 organic lemon
- zest of 1 organic orange
- ½ tsp natural almond extract
- 2 tbsp amaretto liqueur, or rum
- 70 g (¾ cup) soft wheat 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 60 g (1/3 cup) finely ground cornmeal (polenta)
- 100 g (1 cup) ground almonds
- icing confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
For the decoration (optional):
- 10-12 fresh raspberries
- 100 g (scant ½ cup) whipping cream (35–40% fat), cold
- 20 g (generous 1 tbsp) icing confectioners’ sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
To make the sponge:
- Grease the tin well and dust it with flour. Place the shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 170°C (340°F/Gas mark 3).
- Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip the mixture for 6–8 minutes on high speed until it triples in volume and looks pale and frothy. Meanwhile, melt the butter. Set aside to cool. When the egg mixture is light and fluffy, add the citrus zests, almond extract and liqueur, and gently whisk to incorporate them.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture, add the cornmeal and ground almonds, and fold them in with a silicone spatula until fully combined. Finally, fold in the melted butter. Ensure that the butter is fully incorporated by scraping the sides of the bowl thoroughly with the spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 28–30 minutes, or until the top of the cake is caramel in colour and a skewer inserted into the deepest part of the tin comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the tin and then turn it on to a serving plate. Coat the top of the cake with a light dusting of icing sugar.
- Prepare the Chantilly cream following the method on page 75 and place it in a piping bag with a 12mm (½in) star nozzle. Pipe dollops of cream along the sponge and place a raspberry on each one. Store under a cake dome for up to 3–4 days or freeze for up to a month.
Giuseppe’s Italian Bakes by Giuseppe Dell’Anno (Quadrille, £20), Photography © Matt Russell