More and more of my guests are gluten-free. Am I alone? Is this just a Santa Barbara thing? It’s fine with me, because we’ve been moving more in that direction lately anyway.
Something that drives me crazy however, is when people say, “This is good for gluten-free!” Stop it, Snoopy! The food you eat should always taste good, no matter the fad or movement. Fresh seasonal veggies and a nice piece of meat is gluten free, it’s not that hard to have a great meal.
I do admit that desserts get a little tricky. I’ve added a few new gluten-free recipes to my war chest that pass muster. Any dessert has to pass my normal criteria— it has to be easy, able to make in advance and shouldn’t be too sweet.
This is a winner! Of course, I completely pillaged the basis of the recipe from one Martha Stewart (I know, who’s that, right?) With a few simple changes this almond polenta cake is now a gluten free treat. This dessert is perfect to serve with fresh fruit from my garden—and just to sound like Martha for a minute- right now I’m harvesting raspberries, blackberries, mulberries, alpine strawberries and blueberries with my linen garden apron tied around my waist.
Add in a dollop of fresh whipped cream and you have a beautiful and totally satisfying dessert, no gluten free qualifier needed.
Almond Polenta Cake
Makes one 8-inch round cake
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup ground polenta
1/2 cup gluten-free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 teaspoon baking powder*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons melted, for pan
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for pan
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh berries or seasonal fruit
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Set oven to 325
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Pour the two tablespoons of melted butter into an 8-by-2-inch round cake pan, swirling to coat bottom and brushing up sides of the pan. Sprinkle with two tablespoons sugar and toasted sliced almonds; set aside.
Combine butter and remaining one cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating to combine after each addition. Beat in orange juice, zest and vanilla. The batter might look like it’s breaking but it’s totally fine. Add the dry ingredients, slowly beating just until combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer baking pan to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove cake from pan, and cool completely.
Slice and serve with fresh berries (or whatever fresh fruit is in season) and whipped cream. Seasonal fruit is always the best tasting, so you don’t need to add any sugar to it. Just enjoy the natural flavor.
For the whipped cream: I like to whip it up a few hours before dinner and then store it in the fridge. It makes for quick and easy assembly come dessert time. Whip one cup of heavy cream on high until it starts to thicken, then add the teaspoon of vanilla and beat until desired consistency.
*Note: I use Bob’s Red Mill products for gluten free flour and almond flour. Both can be found at Tri-County Produce and Whole Foods. If you have a gluten intolerance here is a list of baking powders that are gluten free as stated by the Clabber Girl site: Clabber Girl Baking Powder, Rumford Baking Powder, Davis Baking Powder, KC Baking Powder, Hearth Club Baking Powder and Royal Baking Powder.