Gotcha! A savoury surprise in what is traditionally baked and served as a sweet tea-time cake! Let’s just say I’m trying to steer clear of the sugar zone given the indulgent Diwali and Christmas season that beckons and made these cute little hors d’oeuvres instead (that’s right, I just used ‘cute’ to describe food) . Polenta has the kind of starchy- comfort food satisfaction, close perhaps to a generous serving of mashed potatoes, but makes for an impressive start to a dinner party when combined with Parmesan and topped with earthy sage leaves. The flavours are minimalist in nature, with no one flavour overpowering the other, and make beautifully shaped servings of pure decadence!
These little shell-shaped sponge cakes, known as Madeleines, originate from the Lorraine region of France and are made using the ‘genoise’ method – which is all just fancy talk, because all you need to do is get yourself a baking mould with shell-shaped depressions. Mine were a vintage buy from the Porte de Vanves market in Paris, but honestly, you don’t need to book a trip to Paris for these moulds, your local baking supplies store should have this mould either in silicone or non-stick coated material.
Just whisk together the dry ingredients and add the melted butter later, as opposed to creaming the butter and sugar the way you usually would for regular cakes, and those my friends, are simple actions for fancy terms like ‘genoise’! With this savoury version, polenta, Parmesan, flour, baking soda and seasoning get whisked together. Quickly, we add a beaten egg, the cooled melted butter and rich buttermilk and whisk it together thoroughly. That’s IT.
Off we go with spooning the batter into the prepared baking mould and a mere 8 to 12 minutes later Sage Polenta Madeleines are ready to be served with some extra Parmesan and pair really well with wine. Perfect for the Diwali card party you’re planning, right?
Easy. Elegant. Impressive.
P.S. My pictures show you the Madeleines inverted after they were cooled and unmoulded.
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay
Makes 16 Madeleines.