Rooibos (Red Bush) Drizzled Polenta Cake

Redbush Polenta Cake on judges' table

Redbush Polenta Cake on judges’ table

This is the cake I made for round 1 of the Balham Cake off held by Trinity Stores. As I mentioned in my last post, our challenge for the first week was to make a Gluten Free Bake which must contain no trace of wheat, barley, rye or oats. Whoa! I had my mind on it for the entire week and I decided I wanted to incorporate a well-loved national African staple ingredient, corn meal, or for those who are into haute cuisine, polenta. I found the perfect recipe on Nigella Lawson’s website, but I adapted it a little bit. In fact, I ended up baking a cake with not one, but two special African ingredients; cornmeal and rooibos.


Rooibos Polenta Cake ingredients

Rooibos Polenta Cake ingredients

225g unsalted butter, room temperature
200g castor sugar
250g ground almonds
75g polenta

Gluten free baking powder

Gluten free baking powder

1 and 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
3 large eggs
zest of 2 lemons


Rooibos drizzle ingredients

Rooibos drizzle ingredients

juice of 2 lemons
125g icing sugar
2 rooibos tea bags


Lined cake tin

Lined cake tin

1. Prepare a 23 cm round baking tin by lining it with greaseproof paper. I greased both the actual cake tin, and the greaseproof lining. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar. I used a hand-held mixer that I bought earlier in the week. What? If I am going to challenge myself to have a go at exercising my amateur baking skills, I might as well do it in a way that is as painless as possible.

Almond and Polenta cake batter

Almond and Polenta cake batter

3. Mix together all the dry ingredients, then add some into the mixture, then add an egg. Add more dry ingredient, then an egg. Repeat until all ingredients have been mixed. Add the lemon zest last, then pour into the baking tin.
4. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Check if the cake is baked by using a cake tester. I used a bamboo skewer and it came out clean. The cake had also shrunk away from the sides of the tin, which re-affirmed that the cake was done. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the baking tin.

Rooibos drizzle ingredients in pan

Rooibos drizzle ingredients in pan

5. In a small saucepan, place all the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil until the sugar has been dissolved. Easy!

Rooibos drizzle over cake

Rooibos drizzle over cake

6. Prick the cake and pour the syrup all over the cake. Don’t forget to be generous with the outer edges as the syrup tends to gather at the centre of the cake.

Enjoy a surprisingly rich taste of heaven. The redbush scent also comes alive with this cake, giving it a honey like touch.

And this my friends was the moment of truth on the judge’s table. I think they liked the buttery lemony centre and showed an appreciation of how it was made. The 1 million dollar question is, “How did my cake look compared to the others?” Considering the cake was judged on presentation, texture and taste… errrrm, I suspect I might have focused on the actual cake and completely forgot about presentation. Couldn’t be that bad? We are all a bunch of amateurs, right? Well… stay tuned for the next post to see how my cake stood the test against the competition.


2 thoughts on “Rooibos (Red Bush) Drizzled Polenta Cake

  1. Yum..your cake looks delicious!!

    Cooking really isn’t my forte (although I am trying to make it so), so I generally stick to an exact recipe. I am slowly branching out to make my own creations.

    Did you make this cake in one go? Or did you do some experimenting on several different versions?

    • Hi! Baking isn’t for me, cooking normal dishes is. I had to do it a couple of times as I really wanted to use cornmeal. The first one I made was a bit dry and I did not use as much butter, but the second one with more ground almonds was just luscious!

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