These precious days between Christmas Day and the New Year make up my favourite week of the year. After the excitement of advent and ensuing celebrations, the calm, quiet time that follows is unbelievable special. To me, it really does feel like the only time that everyone switches off, beds in and takes stock ahead as the year in question drawers to a close. I find myself looking forward to those days in between almost as much as I look forward to Christmas itself.
After so much indulgence, a cake of a slightly more wholesome persuasion can be just the ticket. This little loaf is the perfect project to while away a cosy afternoon this week. Rich with hazelnut, polenta and grapefruit, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest cake for breakfast too.
175g unsalted butter
175g golden caster sugar
60g plain flour
60g ground hazelnuts
60g fine polenta
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
300ml double cream
Toasted hazelnuts, optional
For the cake, begin with the grapefruit. Run the fruit under hot water to remove any wax coating, then place in a saucepan. Cover with water so that the grapefruit is submerged. Boil for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until the fruit is completely soft and a knife sinks through the peel with no resistance.
Remove the grapefruit from the water and set aside to cool. Slice in half, remove any pips, then blitz (peel and all!) in a food processor until pureed. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 170°C and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Grease the sides of the tin lightly with butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Adds the eggs, mixing after each addition. Add half of the grapefruit puree (discarding the second half) and fold into the mixture.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, ground hazelnuts, polenta, baking powder and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Place this in the centre of the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the surface of the cake is a deep caramel colour, and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
When you are ready to serve the cake, whip the cream into soft peaks, and spoon over the top. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and top with dehydrated grapefruit slices to decorate.