Time for a new recipe!

A friend of mine recently lent me the book,
“A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside” by Susan Branch.

My friend knew of my then-upcoming trip to England and thought this might be of interest. Yes! It’s a lovely travel story of Susan and her husband and their most recent two month trip to England. Her narrative of driving (on the “wrong” side of the road, of course!) touched home for me: I certainly did NOT consider driving during my recent trip for it would surely have been a recipe for disaster…

Susan has a few recipes in the book, but this one stood out for me right away:

Orange Lavender Polenta Cake

1+ cup superfine sugar (you can make this by putting regular sugar into a food processor)
1/2 lb. butter, softened
2 1/2 c. almond flour
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
zest of 2 oranges
1/4 c. orange juice
1 1/4 c. fine yellow cornmeal or polenta flour
2 tsp. culinary lavender (optional)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325
Butter & flour a round 9″ cake pan
Beat the sugar & butter together until light.
Stir in almond flour & vanilla.
Fold in orange zest & juice, cornmeal or polenta, lavender, baking powder & salt.
Pour into pan and bake 45-50 min. until cake is set and brown on top.
Cool for 10 min.

Recipe © Susan Branch


I just happened to have this Culinary Lavender from Bluebird Hill Farm



I used cornmeal, but would like to try polenta next time.

It has a unique texture…due to the cornmeal. It’s a bit like cornbread (which I love.)  I was also drawn to the recipe with her use of almond flour. I had used it for the first time last winter and, while it is very expensive, it is so tasty and adds so much to any recipe that I am a huge fan.

Susan calls for serving the cake with a fruit syrup which would be wonderful. But I had, on hand, this yummy and sweet syrup I had bought at
Salt & Sundry in Washington, D.C.
I am going to tell you more about this and other great syrups in an upcoming post!


I would say that this taste is not for everyone: the cake is rough textured and sort of “mealy”. I adored it, but then, I’m a big fan of cornbread.

But the book is wonderful: I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to be an armchair traveler and be whisked away to life on The Queen Mary 2 trans-Atlantic crossing and a slow ramble through the English countryside.
If you have read it, please do let us know your comments!



  1. This looks good.
    Leigh Powell Hines recently posted…Gradara, Italy: The Photo that Almost Didn’t HappenMy Profile

  2. That looks soooo good! Is it more like dessert or bread? Nowadays, dessert can be so overly done. Know what I mean?
    Tone on Tone Loi Thai recently posted…Autumn in Castine, MaineMy Profile

    • Loi: Yes, I know what you mean, but it can be my favorite course at times! Well, this is sort of an afternoon tea kind of bread. I had it for breakfast for a few days! With maple syrup….fabulous!

  3. I have to try this…I LOVE lavender!
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  4. Hi Libby,

    YUM! I am a cornbread lover and this recipe looks delicious. I like both none sweet and sweeten cornbread. I have a recipe for cornbread that I got 10 years ago from a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky that calls for cream style corn, sour cream, eggs, cornmeal and oil. Believe me when I tell you that this cornbread tastes like cake! It is served with honey butter which you can make up yourself. I more than likely would really like this recipe!

    Thanks for the heads up!

  5. Libby,

    I will post it on my blog soon! It’s a wonderful fall/winter dessert and delicious with homemade Italian Soup which I make to go with it!

  6. Looks delicious Libby.
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  7. This cake sounds delicious, AND it’s gluten free, which is perfect for me. I once made a cake similar to this with cornmeal and liked it very much (my husband not so much). I love cornbread too! I think the lavender with the orange would really make this cake! Thanks for sharing.
    Claudia recently posted…No-Bake Chocolate Almond Oat BarsMy Profile

    • Claudia: Cornbread and crisp bacon for breakfast is my idea of a good morning! But do try this and let me know what you think…

  8. Libby, this recipe looks delicious!! I love orange-flavored desserts. I will admit that I have never used anything with polenta, but willing to give it a try.

    Yes, you have taken me on one of your world travels now.

    Hugs, friend!
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    • Hi Dana: We are missing you in the course. It’s a struggle to keep up with the homework: working on my mood board now! See you around….

  9. This cake sounds very intriguing! I would never think to combine orange, lavender and polenta! I love corn bread too and am interested to see what this tastes like. Thanks for sharing at Best of the Nest!

    • Lisa: Yes, it is definitely worth making…esp. for cornbread lovers! And with any kind of syrup it will disappear fast! thanks for co-hosting the link party each month!