Sunday, April 29, 2012

Satsuma Blossom Polenta Cornbread Cake

Spring is so lovely. It is just downright inspiring when it comes to the kitchen. Lately every time I set foot outside to pick fresh greens and flowers for the bunnies, take out the trash, or just enjoy a morning cup of coffee, I am overwhelmed by the enticing scent of citrus blossoms. I have just two small Satsuma mandarin trees in my backyard, but the aroma they waft through the balmy, sultry air is enough to taunt the entire neighborhood with it's provoking, come-hither incense. 

Their perfume is so intense that it seems to entrench, and permeate my mind, so that it gets to the point where all I can think about is in what form I want to eat them. One of my very favourite dishes is a simple, hearty polenta cornbread cake. This cake is sublime with a steaming cafe au lait first thing on a dreary, drizzly morning, as a sweet tasting enticement to pull yourself from your snug bedcovers. It's the perfect compliment to sweet, aromatic Jasmine Green tea mid-afternoon, or just hot and fresh from the oven with a pat of vegan Earth Balance butter, barefoot, with a huge, content, and goofy grin on your syrupy face. Anyway you devour Satsuma Blossom Polenta Cornbread Cake, it is a peerless, perfect reminder of springtime and all the bounty that accompanies it.

For the Cake

3/4 cup unrefined Safflower oil
just under 1/2 cup almond meal
just under 1/2 cup masa
just under 1/2 cup polenta
just under a cup unrefined sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
substitute for 3 eggs by using about 5 tablespoons water, 2.5 tablespoons of oil, and 5 teaspoons baking soda
zest of one lemon

Satsuma Blossom Syrup

1 cup unrefined sugar
1 cup water
2 cups freshly picked Satsuma blossoms

Preheat the oven to 350. I always begin with the Satsuma Blossom Syrup, as it needs to cool in the refrigerator about an hour to solidify a bit. Bring the water and sugar to a boil. Once sugar has begun to dissolve, add blossoms and reduce heat to medium low, stirring occasionally. Simmer about ten minutes. Drain syrup from blossoms, jar, and refrigerate. Don't worry if the syrup isn't very thick after cooking, it will thicken during refrigeration.

While the syrup refrigerates, begin the cornbread. 

Mix together the polenta, masa, almond meal, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine water, oil, and baking soda to make the egg substitution. Add oil and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest. Slowly add the flour mixture, mixing thoroughly. Scrape the batter into a 9" pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Allow to cool a bit, then, while still warm, poke tiny holes over the top of the cake with a chopstick, and drizzle the syrup over the cake. TRY to share.

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