Last Thursday I was surprised to find myself with a free afternoon. Don’t you just love that?
As we have recently moved apartments, I knew I did indeed have lots of tidying tasks to fill these few complimentary hours. Our bedroom is all in order and my wardrobe is delightfully organised (let’s hope this newfound neatness lasts), yet the living room, study and kitchen are all in dire need of some love and attention. Naturally I have made enough room in my kitchen to cook and bake to my hearts content. Did I mention I have a new oven? Well, I do. And it roasts kipfler potatoes like it’s nobody’s business. It’s an Arc, and I am absolutely smitten.
But back to my suddenly free afternoon… Yes, I knew I needed to get stuck into some unpacking, but to do this one must be adequately nourished. I had a sudden craving for a some sort of polenta-based treat, and so I searched through my cookbooks and bookmarked blog recipes, whilst taking into consideration the ingredients I had on hand. After a little hungry research, I came up with this polenta, almond and honey loaf. And I now find myself rather fond of this recipe.
When my early afternoon polenta craving struck, I had originally imagined I would make a polenta cake, which I planned on serving with the poached quinces I made early in the week. But I couldn’t bake a cake. Confession time: I, *gasp*, don’t own a cake tin. Hear me out…in all my 7 years of living out of home I have never been blessed with an oven quite capable of cooking a cake all the way through. Hence, I never saw a need for a cake tin (unless I were to use it to taunt myself at my inability to bake a darn cake, but where’s the fun in that?) Never fear, I explained my dilemma to my beautiful mother, and she has kindly offered for me to raid her cooking cupboard. Fabulous. Soon I will have a lovely tin in my hands and all will be right again in the world.
Actually, in all honesty I found myself rather pleased with my predicament. You see, as it was going to be a loaf I found myself free to play around with ingredients in a refreshing way, including keeping the sugar content down. This loaf is spiked with honey which, as it baked, gave off an incredibly enticing, dreamy aroma. Every time I reheated this loaf under the grill and inhaled a soft honey waft I was sent floating, delicatley, into a sweet, harmonious day-dream. Too much? Well it’s true…
I found this loaf to have a nice balance of flavours and textures, including the sandy feel that polenta offers (I so love that). Remember it is not a cake, it is very much a loaf. So if you like a sweeter slice, play around with the toppings. A citrus syrup would be a beautiful overcoat, perhaps also dressed with a dollop of unsweetened Greek yoghurt.
I picture this loaf being served at breakfast time, warm from the oven, alongside an array of jams and honey. Brunch perfection…
Polenta, Almond and Honey Loaf
This recipe is for a small loaf. By all means, double the recipe and use a bigger tin.
½ cup polenta
½ cup almond meal
½ cup wholemeal plain flour
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
2 pinches of sea salt
1.5 tablespoons light muscovado sugar (you could use brown sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup low-fat milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a 12.5cm (length) x 6.5cm (width) x 5.5cm (height) loaf tin with light dairy spread and lightly flour it.
Sift the flour (and almond meal if it is lumpy) along with the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the polenta, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, honey, melted light dairy spread and milk. Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin, smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Cool the loaf on a wire rack for ~10 minutes, then turn out. Slice and serve warm with poached fruit, honey, jam or butter.
Store the loaf in an air-tight container. It will keep for 3-5 days but really, it shouldn’t last that long 😉 Popping a slice under the grill to lightly toast it before serving is recommended for optimum deliciousness.
For afternoon tea last Thursday, I enjoyed a slice warm from the oven alongside a poached quince. It was utterly delightful. I ate happily sitting outside in my new courtyard with the afternoon sun shining approvingly down upon me and my loaf. And I was more than adequately nourished.