Recipes excerpted from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2019.
Although I’ve called this cornbread, it’s actually not so far from a classic polenta cake, using ground almonds as a soft textural contrast to coarse polenta
It’s gluten-free (don't forget to use a gluten-free baking powder) and made entirely with honey rather than refined sugar, so it’s slightly less sweet than most cakes, too.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
150 g (5 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
3 eggs, separated
150 g (5 oz) runny honey
200 g (7 oz) ground almonds
100 g (3 ½ oz/ 2/3 cup) quick-cook polenta (cornmeal)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
150 g (5 oz) blueberries
Honey butter glaze
20 g (¾ oz) runny honey
20 g (¾ oz) unsalted butter
Preheat a fan oven to 140˚C (280˚F/gas 3). Lightly grease a 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin (pan) and line it with baking parchment.
Get All the Components Ready
Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Measure the honey and butter into another large mixing bowl, then measure the dry ingredients into a fourth bowl.
Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then set aside. Next, use the electric beaters (there’s no need to clean them after whisking the egg whites) to cream the butter and honey together until light and combined. Beat in the egg yolks, then the lemon zest, then fold the dry ingredients into the mixture with a spatula until just combined.
Finally, gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture, trying to lose as little air as possible, but ensuring they’re completely incorporated.
Prepare for Baking
Pour into the cake tin, smoothing the top, then sprinkle over the blueberries. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 45 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Ready the Glaze
Just before the cake comes out of the oven, make the glaze by heating the honey and butter in a small saucepan until combined. When the cake is ready and out of the oven, pierce it with a skewer in any areas not covered by blueberries. Spoon the hot honey butter all over the top.
Cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
Notes on Separating Eggs
In more dense cake mixtures, like this one which contains no flour, I often separate the eggs and whisk the whites separately to incorporate more air into the cake. You needn’t be as vigilant as when making meringues, but make sure there’s no fat in the bowl or on the beaters, or the whites won’t whisk up. Start beating on a slow speed, then increase speed, and keep going until they just form stiff peaks (when you pull out the beaters).