The fromage frais in this loaf keeps the fat content down, while the polenta gives it a lovely crunchy crust.
1 slightly rounded tablespoon espresso instant coffee powder
200 g/¾ cup fromage frais
75 g/½ cup polenta/cornmeal
125 g/1 stick butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
225 g/1 cup caster/granulated sugar
3 large UK/extra large US eggs
200 g/1 2/3 cups self-raising/self-rising flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
100 g/2/3 cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
1 slightly rounded teaspoon espresso instant coffee powder
900-g/2-lb. loaf pan, greased and lined with parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
Put the espresso powder in a cup with one tablespoon boiling water and stir to dissolve, then leave to cool.
Next, take a scant tablespoon from the fromage frais and set it aside for the icing/frosting. Put the remaining fromage frais into the bowl of a stand mixer with the polenta/cornmeal, butter, sugar, eggs, flour and bicarbonate of soda/baking soda (or use a large mixing bowl and a hand-held electric whisk) and beat until combined. Transfer half the mixture to another bowl. Stir the vanilla extract into the first bowl. Stir the dissolved coffee and the cocoa into the second bowl.
Spoon the 2 mixtures into the prepared loaf pan in 3 layers, alternating spoonfuls of each mixture in each layer to resemble a chequerboard. Finally, using a skewer, gently swirl the layers together a few times until you have a defi nite swirl pattern on top of the loaf.
Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan.
To make the espresso icing/frosting, sift the icing/ confectioner’s sugar into a bowl and mix in the espresso powder along with the reserved tablespoon of fromage frais. Add enough cold water to make the icing a spreadable consistency – about 2 teaspoonfuls – but add it gradually, stirring, as you might not need it all.
Turn out the loaf from the pan and spread the icing on top. Leave to set before slicing.