Individual Strawberry and Polenta Cakes with a Lime Basil Gimlet


Makes: 4 cakes and 1 cocktail 

Ingredients for Strawberry and Polenta Cakes with Lemon Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal or semolina flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 13 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk, plus more to thin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)

Ingredients for the Lime Basil Gimlet:

  • 5 large basil leaves
  •  ounces gin (optional)
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • sparkling water or club soda (if making non-alcoholic version - note below)

Procedure for Strawberry and Polenta Cakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour a jumbo muffin pan or mini loaf pans, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.
  4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan/pans. Place the strawberry slices on top of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  5. Combine the confectioners' sugar, milk, and lemon juice to make the glaze and serve over cooked cakes.

Procedure for Lime Basil Gimlet:

  1. Put 4 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and press them gently with a muddler or a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the gin, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe or other small glass.
  4. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

Note: To make this non-alcoholic, shake and strain all ingredients except the gin.  Pour into your glass and top with sparkling water or club soda.

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