This Anglo-Italian inspired dessert resembles a lemon drizzle cake but with a more grainy texture from the polenta. It's a delicious afternoon tea treat and the rich, syrupy flavours makes it nice to eat with a cup of tea.
Preheat the oven to gas, 4, 180°C, fan 160°C. Grease and line an 8-inch springform cake tin with nonstick baking paper. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy using an electric hand-held whisk. Combine the flour, almonds, polenta and baking powder in a separate mixing bowl and add 1/3 of this to the creamed mixture, beating well.
Add 1 egg, beat well, then half the remaining dry ingredients, followed by another egg, beating well between additions. Finish the batter by beating in the lemon zest. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and and bake for 35-40 minutes; it is ready when the edges have started to shrink away from the tin and a cake tester comes out almost clean from the centre.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin on top of a wire rack. Prepare the syrup as the cake is cooling; whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan until smooth, then add the vanilla pods. Bring to the boil, making sure all the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat.
Prick the top of the cake all over with a thin skewer or cake tester and pour the syrup evenly on top, letting it sink in. Remove the cake from the tin when it is cool, slice into portions and arrange on plates. Garnish with the vanilla pods from the syrup.
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