Preparation: 30-40 minutes
Baking: 40-45 mins
Amor polenta is, in my opinion, one of the best tea cake we have in Italy. It is absolutely delicious and, if well prepared, is also light and fragrant to the palate. The name comes from the use of polenta flour, but not the coarse one used to make polenta; for the cake we use a refined version called “farina di mais fioretto” or the super refined “farina di mais fumetto”.
Nowadays, it is a cake that has gained popularity all over Italy because of the internet, but in the past it was something you could have come across only if visiting the north Italian provinces of Varese and Bergamo (Lombardy region). I’m from Lombardy and I have always wanted to publish this recipe so people can enjoy it, no matter where they live....so let’s make it global!
There are different versions of course, depending on who is making it, but generally and traditionally speaking I would recognise two main versions. One version requires finely ground almonds, with vanilla as flavouring, and the other version no almond or vanilla, but a bit of Maraschino liquor is added in the final mix.
Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):
Note 1: You can substitute Maraschino with rum or Amaretto di Saronno.
Note 2: I recommend the use of a digital scale and measuring of all the ingredients in grams.
Note: you may also need a wire rack to cool down the cake and a small sieve for the final dusting with icing sugar.
To the 170 g of egg yolk add just 60 g of egg white (in the bowl you will then have 230 g of egg wash).
Mix the 230 g egg wash energetically for a good 30 seconds.
After you have completed the above tasks, you should be left with a 230 g bowl of egg wash (left of the picture) and 100 g of untouched egg white (right of the picture). Cover, both, with cling film and refrigerate.
Take all the flours (polenta flour, cake flour and cornflour) and the baking powder.
Sift all the flours and baking powder together (using a medium size glass bowl) and then set aside.
Have the butter, the icing sugar and the honey to hand.
Roughly cut the butter into pieces and put it into a large size glass bowl.
Start mixing with the electric hand mixer, to soften the butter.
When the butter is soft and paler, start adding the icing sugar. Add the icing sugar in two or three lots, while mixing with the hand mixer.
Once the icing sugar is fully incorporated with the butter, add the honey and mix for few seconds with the hand mixer.
Here, we have a fluffy, pale butter/icing sugar/honey mix.
Next, take the 230 g egg wash from the fridge and add 1/3 of it to the butter/icing sugar/honey mix.
Mix with the hand mixer and when the egg wash is fully incorporated with the butter/icing sugar/honey mix, add another 1/3 of it. Keep going until all the egg wash is incorporated with the butter/icing sugar/honey mix.
Job done! Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside (not in the fridge).
Now, we prepare the meringue. Take the 100 g of egg white from the fridge and put it into the electric mixer bowl.
Mix with high speed for few minutes, until a white foam starts to form. Then, while still mixing, add the caster sugar in two lots. At that point the meringue will considerably increase in volume.
Mix until the meringue forms a firm peak. To give you an idea, it took roughly 7 minutes for me, to achieve this stage with my Kenwood mixer.
Add 1/3 of the meringue to the butter mix and gently fold, using a spatula, from the bottom to the top. Once the first 1/3 of meringue is fully incorporated, add 1/3 of the sifted flours. Then, start again, with another 1/3 of meringue and then, again, another 1/3 of sifted flours. Keep going until all the meringue and flours are incorporated in the butter mix.
Gentle and correct folding is important because you want to mix the ingredients together but at the same time you want to maintain the light consistency of the whole mix.
This is the final mix, the one I will put in the cake moulds.
I have used non-stick cake moulds so I just needed to grease them inside with some butter. Fill the moulds to 3/4 of their depth.
Put the cake moulds into a pre-heated oven and bake the large mould for 45 minutes at 165°C (330°F) and the small one for 40 minutes. My oven is fan assisted.
These are the two moulds after baking.
I have levelled the base of the cakes with a serrated knife.
Here are the cakes cooling down on the wire racks.
Here is the dusting (use icing sugar) of the traditionally shaped Amor polenta cake. Traditionally, you should have a central line with no icing, so I have used a round wooden stick to do the job.
Here is the dusting of the little cake I have made with the loaf tin.
Finally, the two cakes ready for my afternoon tea.
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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