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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Lemon Polenta Cake

    Hi Team Nigella! I love the Lemon Polenta Cake. Am wondering if it is possible to substitute the butter with extra virgin olive oil (for both taste and health reasons)? If so, how much? Many thanks!

    From the nigella team:

    Nigella's recipe for Lemon Polenta Cake appears in Kitchen (p272) and there is also a link below to the recipe on this website. For this recipe it is quite difficult to switch the butter for oil for a couple of reasons. The first is that butter is roughly 80% fat and 20% water and other milk solids, whereas oil is 100% fat. Using oil would likely produce a cake that is a little too greasy, unless the oil is reduced and some other liquid, such as milk, is added to make up the difference.

    The second issue is that the butter and sugar are creamed in this cake recipe and it is particulalry important here as the creaming process will help to incorporate air and give the cake some of its structure. As polenta and ground almonds don't contain gluten (the protien in flour that "stretches" to hold air) the cake will be more dense and omitting the creaming process will compound this.

    If you would like to try a cake with olive oil then we would suggest Nigella's Venetian Carrot Cake (link below, also in Kitchen, p278). Alternatively the Apple and Walnut Cake from Domestic Goddess (p36) is made with walnut oil but Nigella notes in the introduction that it is adapted from a cake with olive oil and this can be used in the recipe instead.

    http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/LEMON-POLENTA-CAKE-5308

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