Homemade lemon raspberry polenta cake with strawberries

Accented with tangy lemon zest and studded with sweet-tart, ruby red raspberries, this polenta cake is both rustic and seductive.The tender cake layers are brushed with fragrant limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, and then layered with mounds of fluffy whipped cream. Sliced toasted almonds and a pile of fresh raspberries crown the top, making this a visually pleasing and very fine dessert!

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1 1/4 cups bleached cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 12 ounces of raspberries, divided (you will use 1/2 cup in the cake, and the rest for garnishing the top of the cake)

FOR THE GARNISH

  • 1/4 cup limoncello or Basic Simple Sugar Syrup with Flavor Variations, Lemon Variation
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted*

Method

  1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.  Spray a 9- x 2-inch cake pan with cooking oil spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and spray paper.
  3.  Sift the measured flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir in polenta. Set aside.
  4. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, on low until softened.
  5. Add the sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until the butter is slightly aerated.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat for 20 seconds after each addition.
  7. After the eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes.  Set the kitchen timer to help you keep track of the time. The mixture will become fluffy and aerated.
  8. Stop the mixer and scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula.
  9. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and polenta mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and beat just until blended.
  10. At low speed, mix in lemon peel and juice.
  11. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Then transfer batter to the prepared pan.
  12. Scatter 1/2 cup raspberries evenly over the top of the cake batter.
  13. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs attached for about 35 minutes.
  14. Remove cake to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula or sharp knife, taking care not to scratch the cake pan Using a knife, cut around pan sides to loosen the cake.
  15. Turn the cake out onto the wire cake rack. Be careful, the cake is delicate when warm. Peel off parchment. Let cool.

Garnish the cake

  1.  Torte the cake: Using a serrated knife cut the cooled cake horizontally into 2 layers. Using the bottom of a 9-inch tart pan as aid (or a similar size plate) transfer 1 layer to a platter or flat serving dish.
  2. Generously brush the cake with limoncello
  3. Spread 1/2 of whipped cream over the layer and spread ALMOST to the edges of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle whipped cream with about 1 1/2 tablespoons toasted almonds.
  5. Scatter 1/2 of the remaining raspberries over the surface of the whipped cream, culling out the most beautiful berries for the top of the cake.
  6. Place the second layer on top and gently press it down. The whipped cream should just come to the edges of the cake.
  7. Brush the top of the cake with limoncello.
  8. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and mound the remaining raspberries decoratively in the centre of the cake.

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