Vegan Crusted Lime Polenta Cake

I once thought I had found my favorite cake. It turns out I’ve been wrong many times. When I was old enough to remember the things I asked for, I started asking my mom to make cherry cheesecake for my birthdays. Then I switched to carrot cake. That’s pretty much been the rule since I was somewhere around 12 years old. But now I can make cakes all by myself. So I discovered a love for red velvet cake, and chocolate cake with coconut icing. I thought my newest favorite was this recipe for Ginger-Chocolate Stout Cake with Sweetened Yogurt, and it’s pretty good.

Look at that nice crust!

But then I made this recipe from my “Easy Vegetarian” cookbook. I wanted to make something my colleague Julie at the Poetry Center could eat, so I had to make it vegan. Normally I like to use applesauce in place of eggs in my vegan baked goods. But I didn’t think applesauce would go as well with polenta and lime. So I opted to try (for the first time) the other vegan egg substitute for baked goods…mashed bananas. The ratio is one banana for each egg and it seems pretty accurate after trying it here. So if you DON’T want to make this vegan, then sub in real butter for the Earth Balance and 3 eggs for the 3 bananas. I encourage you to use the bananas anyway though. The taste was mild enough that it did not intrude and overpower the flavors of the yellow cornmeal and lime, which was my main concern. What pleasantly surprised me is how moist and rich the banana made this cake. Now, there was an awful lot of liquid in this cake from the gloriousness of the lime juice, but I still think that using banana instead of egg gave it an extra edge. But do as you please, I’m not here to force you. I was really impressed by the use of ground almonds here. I ground them the way my Momma taught me…by shoving them into a gallon sized Ziploc bag, sealing it, and then banging the crap out of them with a hammer. Simple and effective and an opportunity to simultaneously practice your cooking and handyman skills. The ground almonds merged seamlessly with the rest of the cake ingredients to create a not-too-heavy-but-clearly-PRESENT cake that has weight on your tongue and spreads flavors across it easily. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t used any milk products to make it (I actually had to go back to check the recipe). This is a great cake for a summer weekend. It’s heavy enough to be the final filling piece of your meal, but the citrus flavor keeps the overall tone of the cake very light. This has easily skyrocketed to the favorite cakes list I keep locked in a box in my heart.

Vegan Crusted Lime Polenta Cake
2 sticks Earth Balance
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 bananas, mashed well
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
grated zest and juice of 3 unwaxed limes
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

lime crust:
freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a 10 inch in diameter pan with Earth Balance and sprinkle with flour. Set aside.
2. Put the Earth Balance and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat till pale and light with an electric mixer.
3. Still beating the mixture, add the bananas a little bit at a time.
4. Using a large spoon, stir in the vanilla extract and ground almonds, then fold in the lime zest and juice, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan.
6. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour 15 minutes or till just set and golden brown.
7. Meanwhile, make the lime crust by putting the lime juice and sugar into a bowl and mixing well.
8. When the cake is cooked, prick it well with a skewer all over the surface and pour over the lime juice mixture.
9. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
10. Remove the cake from the pan. Can be served still warm or after cooled when it’s a bit easier to slice up. Try it ala mode too, if you dare!

Vegan Crusted Lime Polenta Cake

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