The texture of this cake is a winner: polenta is great to bake with. It brings a crumbly quality to the party so to help everything bind together, I combine it with ground almonds that provide the moisture. Grease and line a 20 x 20 cm or similar sized cake tin before starting; it’s a boring job but at least then it’s done. Even with a non-stick tin, I cover the bottom with oiled greaseproof paper as there’s nothing more frustrating than baking the perfect cake and losing a chunk of it whilst extracting it from the tin.
Ingredients (makes around 15 slices)
8 Medjool dates soaked in 200 ml of hot water with 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
4 pears (500-600g in weight)
30g rice flour
120g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder (gluten free or conventional)
50g coconut oil – and extra for greasing the cake tin
1-2 tbsp honey
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of an orange
2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 160 (fan)/180 (conventional)
- Line and then grease the cake tin with a smear of coconut oil.
- Blitz the dates and soaking water, along with the lemon juice, into a smooth purée.
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and polenta into a large mixing bowl and stir briefly to combine and break up any clumps of ground almonds.
- Cut the pears into little cubes, less than a cm ideally.
- Melt the coconut oil and honey in a small pan. Pour into the date purée and blend again. Throw in the cinnamon and zest.
Tip in the eggs and blend for one last time before pouring the batter into the almond, polenta and flour mix.
- Mix gently, making sure everything is combined, before carefully stirring in the pear.
- Pour the mixture into the tin and cook for 40-45 minutes. Check to see how the cake is progressing around 25-30 minutes and place a piece of foil on top to stop it browning too much. Leave to cool in the tin before slicing.