Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Pear and Honey Polenta Cake

A while back (early 2011 I think), when Something for the Weekend was on BBC2 on a Sunday morning, we watched Simon Rimmer make this cake... and, ever vigilant for all items Gluten Free, we noticed there was no gluten in the recipe. Yippee! Another cake for us to try.

The first time this was made, we stuck to the recipe to the letter (a rarity in this kitchen) and the resultant cake was HUGE.  Also, the pear prep was "a bit of a faff" so, being lazy, we now came up with an alternative.  We also only make half the quantity that's listed in Simon's recipe... I would link to it on the BBC website but it seems to have disappeared (perhaps at the same time as the show?)  Instead we've taken a pic of the sheet we printed off and, hopefully, it's legible.

In case not, here are the ingredients in Simon's recipe:-
450g/1lb pears, peeled and chopped
500g/4oz unsalted butter
50ml/1¾fl oz honey
450g/1lb caster sugar
450g/1lb ground almonds
6 free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest only
225g/8oz polenta
pinch salt
1½ tsp baking powder

As is the routine, we set about getting all the ingredients out.  You will see we have a tin of pears in the line up.  This is one of the 'tweaks' to Simon's recipe we now use.  One tin of pears, drained, contains the amount needed for the half recipe we make up.  Much easier than using fresh pears and we get consistent results too.

Remember, we make HALF the quantity shown in the ingredients list above.  If you make the full amount you will need a BIG mixing bowl or stand mixer.

Having allowed the butter to reach room temperature, it was creamed with the sugar until it became lighter in colour.  Whilst this was happening, the tinned pears were drained and put in a small pan with the honey and 25g of the butter and heated through.  They were then mashed and left to one side to cool a little.

Once the butter and sugar were combined, the ground almonds were added and mixed.  This is the point where our ancient electric hand mixer starts to groan about nearing retirement age.  The mix at this stage is like a stiff porridge and adding the beaten eggs, one at a time does loosen it slightly.  Then the polenta, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and vanilla extract were incorporated... we use a silicone spatula for this.  After this, the mashed pear mix was added and mixed through.

Finally, it was time to share the mix between 3 individual mini loaf tins and 14 cupcake/muffin cases.  They were then baked in a preheated (160ÂȘC) oven and checked after 25 minutes (using a skewer), returned to the oven and checked again 5 minutes later.  It's quite a wet mix and the moisture content of the pears does vary, so checking regularly rather than relying on set times works best with this recipe.

Once today's baked cakes were declared 'done' by Sous Chef J (having inspected the skewer prodding process) they were left to cool, in their baking tins, on a wire rack.

Simon's recipe uses a 2lb loaf tin and says to cook for 45-55 minutes but the first time we made the cake, it took well over an hour to be baked through.  And, as you can see, we used a round cake tin so perhaps that was the reason why?!


  1. Your cakes look gorgeous Louise. I bet the combination of pears and honey with polenta is delicious. Thank you for sharing another great gluten free recipe!

    Charlotte x

    1. Thanks Charlotte!

      We're always on the look out for (simple) Gluten Free ideas :-)


  2. Thank you for sharing your 'tweaked' recipe. Just about to dash out for some of the ingredients but wondered about the quantity of unsalted butter. I want to make two cakes (2 x 2lb tins). The photo of Simons recipe lists 500g of unsalted butter but you have listed 100g here. Would you mind letting me know which one is correct. Really looking forward to trying it. Thanks

    1. Hi Amanda. You are an eagle eyed spotter! Yes, 500g of butter... and blog amount now corrected. Hope this helps and you like the cakes :-)