On one such occasion, I decided to gild the lily a bit and make a tangy lemon curd as an additional topping for the shortcakes I was bringing to a party hosted by my friends, Andy and Kelley. The shortcakes were a hit and were especially enjoyed by our host Andy. Years later and he is still talking about those shortcakes with the lemon curd.
Polenta Cake with Lemon Curd and Berries
For the cake (adapted from Food and Wine):
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup polenta (Bob's red mill makes a good one, you can use coarsely ground corn meal if you can't find the polenta)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup olive oil (don't use a very strongly flavored one)
juice of 1 medium lemon
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 medium lemon
Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan and set it aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thickened. It will also appear lighter in color. This takes about 3 minutes. Mix in the oil, lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon zest until combined. Gently fold in the flour, polenta, and baking soda until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out moist, but clean. Let the cake cool completely on a rack.
zest of 1 large lemon
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 fluid ounces (or 6 tbs) lemon juice, about 2 1/2 large lemons
4 tbs butter, cut into pieces
In a heavy saucepan (without the heat on), beat the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and lemon zest. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Be sure to scrape the corners and sides of the pan, you don't want to get lumps or scramble your eggs. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Don't let it boil! You will curdle your curd, which oddly enough, would be a bad thing.
|When the lemon curd is done, it will coat the back of a spoon and not drip off. You should be able to run your finger down the spoon and the two sides should remain separated.|
To assemble the dessert, slice the cake into thick slices and spoon the lemon curd over it. Top it with sliced mixed berries (I add a tablespoon or so of sugar to the berries and let them sit for a few minutes to bring out their juices). If you're really feeling decadent, you can add a scoop of freshly whipped cream to the top.