Prue Leith's Favorite Type Of Cake (And Why She Rarely Bakes Them)

At 84, Prue Leith's career shows no signs of slowing down. Her extraordinary resume includes chef, food educator, cooking school founder, Michelin-star restaurant owner, author, kitchen and homeware designer, and of course, her most globally known role as a beloved host of "The Great British Bake Off." In an interview with Town & Country, Leith shared many tips and valuable personal opinions with fans, including her favorite type of cake.

After years of judging and trying potentially hundreds of gourmet and complex baked goods, Leith's favorite cake is the humble and rustic Italian lemon polenta cake. A gluten-free dessert that swaps flour for earthy cornmeal and nutty ground almonds, lemon polenta cake combines these dry ingredients with sugar, eggs, olive oil, and copious amounts of lemon juice and zest. It's aromatic, sweet, and slightly tangy with a unique crumbly, moist, and coarse texture. Tasting Table provides an orange-infused olive oil and polenta cake if you'd prefer that over lemons.

Leith acknowledges that baking requires considerable time and deliberate effort, so blocking out a few hours in her tireless schedule to bake a cake is a luxury she can rarely afford. She told Town & Country, "If I really feel like baking a cake, I'll probably do a lemon polenta, or an orange polenta cake." She goes on to admit that she doesn't bake for herself and her husband, "because we're both slightly overweight, and partly, because I'm really busy."

More on Prue Leith's favorite cake and tips on execution

Despite being a prolific cookbook author herself, Leith endorses her colleague Ruth Rogers who, together with the late Rose Gray, features a recipe for lemon polenta cake in their cookbook "River Cafe Cookbook," named after their Michelin-starred restaurant. Since she so rarely makes cakes, Leith is unequivocal about making Rogers and Gray's recipe "because it is the best—it's a classic lemon polenta cake."

Leith's tip about making the best lemon polenta cake applies to baking in general. She asserts that baking is an exact science that must be executed exactly as stated in a recipe. Even the slightest deviation in measurements, proportions, and the order of steps could have disastrous results. Simply put, to make a good cake, "read the recipe, and do exactly what it says." You can thus leave improvisation and experimentation for more forgiving recipes like savory stews or soups. Of course, the cake recipe itself must come from a reputable source, prompting Leith's final remark: "You have to buy a decent cookbook."

As a general rule, you should read through the recipe a few times to understand the order of things. The ingredients list should be the first step for prepping your cake, cueing you to first gather and measure out each ingredient for efficient and correct mixing. Preheating the oven before making your batter, so you can slide it right into the oven, and resist the urge to open the oven door until completing the specified cooking time.