This Blueberry & Honey Cornbread is actually not so far from a classic polenta cake, using ground almonds as a soft textural contrast to coarse polenta. It’s gluten-free (don’t forget to use gluten-free baking powder) and made entirely with honey rather than refined sugar, so it’s slightly less sweet than most cakes, too.

INGREDIENTS – serves 8–10

150 g (5 oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

3 eggs, separated

150 g (5 oz) runny honey

200 g (7 oz) ground almonds

100 g (31/2 oz/2/3 cup) quick-cook polenta (cornmeal)

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

150 g (5 oz) blueberries

Honey butter glaze

20 g (3/4 oz) runny honey

20 g (3/4 oz) unsalted butter


Preheat a fan oven to 140˚C (280˚F/gas 3). Lightly grease a 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin (pan) and line it with baking parchment. Get all the components ready: separate the eggs, putting the whites into a large mixing bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Measure the honey and butter into another large mixing bowl, then measure the dry ingredients into a fourth bowl.

Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then set aside. Next, use the electric beaters (there’s no need to clean them after whisking the egg whites) to cream the butter and honey together until light and combined. Beat in the eggs yolks, then the lemon zest, then fold the dry ingredients into the mixture with a spatula until just combined.

Finally, gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture, trying to lose as little air as possible, but ensuring they’re completely incorporated.

Tip into the cake tin, smoothing the top, then sprinkle over the blueberries. Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 45 minutes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Just before the cake comes out of the oven, make the glaze by heating the honey and butter in a small saucepan until combined. When the cake is ready and out of the oven, pierce it with a skewer in any areas not covered by blueberries. Spoon the hot honey butter all over the top. Cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Extracted from California: Living + Eating by Eleanor Maidment (Hardie Grant, £22)