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!