Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Orange Polenta Cake

Slightly sweet and great with coffee or tea in the afternoon, it's a cake version of the polenta cookies I love.
The outside edge gets a little crispy, while the inside remains dense with a mostly tender crumb (well, there's some crunch and gritty texture due to the coarse polenta).
Maybe the contrast is part of what I like about it.

Polenta is cornmeal, but it's not the fine, sandy version that one would use for something like an American corn bread. It has a more basic texture (not in a bad way)- it's got more body to it. The texture is first easily identified by sight.  In the photo above, cornmeal is on the left and polenta on the right.

There's some orange for added flavor, but olive oil gives the cake an additional and different fruity flavor.
The difference isn't overpowering, and maybe no one would even know it's there. But to me, since I know it exists in this cake, and perhaps because of what I associate olive oil with, it adds an almost slightly savory edge to the cake.

If you're at all skeptical and worried about olive oil in a dessert, go ahead and use butter, but I would at least encourage you to try a mixture of half olive oil and half softened butter.

And I know it can be difficult to wait until a cake is completely cool to cut into it, but try to resist. The flavors meld better upon cooling and the cake is less eggy.

Other additions to the cake:
lemon zest
maybe a bit of minced fresh rosemary
some vanilla
toasted pine nuts

Serving suggestions:
whipped cream, whipped mascarpone (or a combination of the two)
powdered sugar
fresh berries
fruit compote
candied oranges in syrup

Orange Polenta Cake
makes 1, 10 inch (26 cm) cake

1 1/4 c (215 g) polenta
3/4 c (80 g) almond flour
2 T (20 g) corn starch
1/2 t (4 g) salt
1/2 t (3 g) baking powder
2/3 c (160 ml) olive oil
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 navel oranges
1 small lemon
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 F/160 C.
Grease the inside base and ring of a 10 inch/26 cm springform pan with butter. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the polenta, almond flour, corn starch, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a food processor pulse the olive oil and sugar until combined. Add the eggs, the orange zest and juice (which came to about 3/4 c or 180 ml), the lemon zest and juice, and pulse again until fully combined.
Carefully scoop the contents of the polenta and flour mixture into the food processor and pulse several times until fully incorporated.
Pour the batter out into the prepared pan. The batter may seem a little soupy, but that's alright. The liquid will be absorbed and everything will come together once the cake is baked. 

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. 
Let the cake cool on a wire rack about 20 minutes, then remove the outside ring of the pan to allow the cake to cool completely. 
Serve as desired. 


  1. We had this with strawberries and whipped cream.
    Better than strawberry shortcake!
    Happy Mother's Day! May is YELLOW?

  2. Made this lovely recipe and found it was just as good (or better) 2-3 days after it was made.

  3. I updated the recipe with the addition of a lemon- I think I liked it better this way.