Cake is an ideal solution to many food-based problems. On your way to a relative’s for afternoon tea and need to bring a plate? Cake. Need an impressive dessert for your next dinner party? Cake. Need to suck up to your boss with something sweet? Cake. This pretty pistachio and polenta number, from Great British Bake Off alumnus Benjamina Ebuehi’s new cookbook I’ll Bring Dessert, ticks all the boxes. And if it doesn’t? Try her lemon tart or salted honey sesame tart instead.

“A cake that can stay moist for days is a keeper,” she writes. “This cake is a bit of an overachiever in that respect, with ground pistachios, oil and yoghurt coming together to create a perfectly dense and nutty cake. This is a good all-rounder – something I would take for a casual afternoon or lazy summer evening gathering. But it would also be right at home if you wanted to bring something to impress. Preserved lemons can be a bit divisive but there’s just enough here to notice that something different is going on without them being overpowering.”

The cake will keep well wrapped for two days. Add the glaze on the day of serving.

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Benjamina Ebuehi’s pistachio and polenta cake with preserved lemon

Serves 8–10
Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus cooling
Cooking time: 35–40 minutes

180g pistachios, plus extra chopped to decorate
80g polenta
175g caster sugar
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 preserved lemon (about 35–40g)
100g sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
2 eggs
80g plain yoghurt
Grated zest of 1 lemon

180g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease a 20cm round cake pan and line with baking paper.

Add the pistachios to a food processor and blitz until fine. Pour into a bowl along with the polenta, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder, and set aside.

Cut the preserved lemon in half and remove any seeds. Mash the preserved lemon in a pestle and mortar until you have a paste, or finely chop and smush it on a chopping board.

Add the eggs, oil, yoghurt and lemon zest to a separate bowl. Give it a good whisk and stir in the preserved lemon. Pour this into your dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35–40 minutes until browned and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the glaze, add the icing sugar to a small bowl, then mix in the lemon juice a little at a time, stopping when the icing is quite thick but still pourable. You may not need all of the lemon juice, but if it gets too thin, just mix in a little more icing sugar.

Spoon the glaze on top of the cake, using the back of a spoon to nudge it towards the edges of the cake. Top with the extra chopped pistachios and let set for 10 minutes before slicing.

This is an edited extract from I’ll Bring Dessert by Benjamina Ebuehi, published by Quadrille. Available in stores nationally from April 11, 2024. Photography by Laura Edwards.