As the regular readers are aware I’m writing this from England, or to be more exact a small fishing village in North Yorkshire. Staithes is the sort of village that has been clinging to the cliffs for the last thousand years and like a living museum hasn’t changed for generations. As you wander through the alleyways that crisscross the higgledy piggledy mass of cute stone cottages you can almost feel the ghosts of the past brush past you like a barely heard whisper. Captain James Cook worked as a seventeen year old in the shop on the seafront more than 250 years ago and to be honest looking at the raging storm that’s crashing over the piers at the moment I’m amazed that this was the start of his maritime journey.

One thing that this area does well is to preserve its traditions and for me that means the food. In this age of globalisation it really is nice to see local traditions carried on and in some cases thriving. Fortunes Kippers have been smoked in the same old sandstone building for hundreds of years by the same family and the local cheeses are as identifiable as the valleys they come from, the famous Wensleydale but also Eskdale and Commondale.

So to this week’s recipe, I thought I’d go down the Gluten Free route, we tend to think that gluten free is a modern phenomena closely related to food processing’s massive over reliance on flour and flour products. To some extent this is true, flour is being added less on what it can do and more as a packer because it’s cheap. After all who would check to see the flour content of icing sugar, it shouldn’t be there but sometimes it is.

This cake uses Polenta instead of wheat flour, which gives it a wonderful almost nutty flavour and a delicious lemony zing. Eat it as is or with some natural yoghurt, or if you can find it some New Zealand Buffalo Milk Yoghurt, remember its all about the taste.

Next week we’re heading to London and then on to France, but before then I’m going to get you the most traditional Pork Pie recipe that I can find. This is a tasting mission that might not be good for my waistline but will be fun.

Polenta, Almond and Lemon Cake

450g unsalted Butter

450g caster sugar

450g ground almonds

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

6 eggs

grated zest of 5 lemons

juice of 2 lemons

225g polenta flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

0.25 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 160˚ c

Butter and flour a 30 cm cake tin

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and light, stir in the ground almonds then beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Gently fold in all the other ingredients and spoon into cake tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 60 – 90 minutes, or until set. The cake will be a deep brown on top.

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