It’s dogwood season in Georgia. The tree out in my front yard is full of blooms, as are the rest of the numerous dogwood trees in Atlanta, and man are they beautiful. This time of year always reminds me of the first time I spent any time in Atlanta. I had flown in for the weekend to visit the UGA and Emory Law Schools. It was one of those beautiful spring days that are so great in GA: the sun was out, blue skies, everything was in bloom and everything was pretty much as lovely, shining and happy as life gets. This time of year is one of my favorite things about living here. Other than the pollen count. The pollen is just brutal.


So while I was out and about in this beautiful weather, I stopped in a bookstore and ended up getting a copy of Nigel Slater’s latest cookbook, Orchard. The book contains recipes featuring fruits and nuts that are grown in an orchard, which I think is a pretty neat concept. One recipe in particular caught my eye: Honey Polenta Cake with Elderflower and Gooseberries. I’m feeling kind of into simple, rustic cakes lately and this certainly fit the bill. I also recently discovered elderflower liqueur  (cordial?), which made this recipe doubly exciting.


Of course, I can’t manage to just make the recipe as written. First of all, I didn’t feel like hunting down gooseberries. Second, I’m really much more into grapefruit at the moment than lemon. So I ended up making a few adjustments as I baked, and ended up with a dense, rustic cake that also happened to be both delicious and  gluten-free.


Honey Polenta Cake
Cook time
Total time
An adaptation of Nigel Slater's Honey Polenta Cake with Elderflour and Gooseberries.
Recipe By:
Recipe Type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • Cake Batter
  • ½ C Butter (1 stick)
  • 1 C + 2 Tbsp Raw Sugar
  • ⅓ C Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1⅓ C Almond Flour
  • ⅓ C Blanched Almonds, chopped
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1¼ C Polenta
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Grapefruit Juice
  • 2 tsp Grapefruit Zest
  • Syrup
  • ¼ C + 2 Tbsp Grapefruit Juice
  • ⅔ C Elderflower Cordial
  • 4 Tbsp Honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prep an 8" spring form pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Blitz the raw sugar in a food processor to break down the size of the crystals and then cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until they are light and fluffy. Mix in the yogurt.
  3. Add the almond flour and blanched, chopped almonds to the mixer bowl and mix to incorporate.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and stir them into the batter, one at a time.
  5. Mix together the polenta and baking powder and stir them into the batter.
  6. Lastly, stir in the grapefruit juice and zest.
  7. Transfer the batter to the prepped pan, smooth the top and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees F and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes (until the center has set up).
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and set it on a wire rack in its pan.
  9. Immediately, combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small pot on the stove. Bring the ingredients to a boil and then, stirring, let it bubble away until a thin syrup forms (approx. 4 minutes).
  10. Poke holes in the still-warm cake and drizzle the syrup over it so that the syrup soaks into the cake.
  11. Let the cake finish cooling and then remove it from the springform pan.
If you so desire, you can make a batch of stewed grapefruit to go over the cake. Simply cook down some grapefruit slices with some honey, et voila!