Wednesday 2 May 2018

Keeping the tradition – cake for an afternoon tea

Afternoon tea has been a ritual in my family for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up, going to my grandmother’s home for tea was a must. But I wasn’t under any obligation, I really loved it.

My paternal grandmother was from a Lebanese background. The Lebanese take food and family gatherings very seriously. Food is often an excuse for them. Every day we had some sort of homemade cake, biscuit, bread, pudding, plus some seasonal fruits. Actually, I was very lucky with both sides of the family. My maternal grandmother not only cooked Brazilian food superbly well but also Italian - because of my grandfather’s roots.

Forward to this day, my family spontaneously created a habit of afternoon tea. My husband and I often work from home and we have the luxury of having a tea break. Instead of buying cakes, or going for the “healthy” option of raw energy bars, I prefer to make them myself. This way I can control the amount of sugar and the quality of ingredients that go into them. I also want my daughter to have the pleasure of coming home from school and finding the smell of freshly homemade cake, muffins (savoury/sweet), or biscuits in the house.

I am not one for the calorie counting culture. A so called “healthy” raw energy bar might contain more sugar than a piece of cake (see below on A healthy note).

We are not only getting the pleasure of carrying on the tradition of an afternoon tea as a family but we are also gaining some nutritional benefits from my homemade baking.

The ingredients.

Mixed and ready to be baked.

The lemon syrup.

My lemon polenta cake.

Lemon polenta cake
serves 16


For the cake

200g organic soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
160g caster sugar
200g organic ground almonds
100g organic fine polenta (or cornmeal)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
4 small organic eggs (or 3 large)
zest of 2 lemons 

For the syrup

juice of 2 lemons (the ones you used above)
50 grams caster sugar or honey


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin with butter, sides and all, and line it with a baking parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and pale.

Beat in the eggs, one by one.

In another bowl mix together the almonds, polenta, baking powder, lemon zest. Add this mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes.

Make the syrup by boiling together the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan.
Simmer over a medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Remove the cake tin from the oven. Prick the top of the cake all over with a skewer, then pour or brush the warm syrup over it. Leave it to cool.

Delicious served with a dollop of yoghurt and chopped pistachios.

A healthy note: A serving of my polenta cake can provide around 13g of sugar (
it’s not ideal if you are trying to have a very low sugar intake, but it’s ok for those who don’t have restrictions and who are on a healthy balanced diet), as opposed to some raw energy bars that provide approximately 19g per serving. Remember that the recommended maximum refined sugar intake for an adult is 30g a day; and for a child between 19g-24g (see NHS for the government guidelines ).

Till next week!

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