Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Polenta Cake with Olive Oil and Rosemary

Cake cake cake. I love cake. When there is cake in the house, I will eat it all day long for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Just the mere sight of a simple cake makes my body quiver. I get closer, and the smell locks me in. One bite, and I'm sold, it's over, no stopping now.

Polenta. Rosemary. Olive Oil--use the good stuff, something that has a nice fruity flavor (by the way, what is the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil? Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste).

Polenta cake with olive oil and rosemary. An experiment. A success. A moist treat full of herby flavor and a soft interior balanced with crunchy notes from the polenta.

I received David Lebovitz's cookbook, Ready for Dessert in the mail, and I just had to make something right away! This cake stuck out to me. It looked like a simple cake to make, I had all of the ingredients, and the olive oil and rosemary intrigued me. Slathered with some butter and a dribble of honey, dunked in some hot coffee or milk, served with fresh nectarines and peaches with a dollop of whipped cream, or eaten sliver by sliver all on its own, this cake has my heart.

Polenta Cake with Olive Oil and Rosemary
from David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert

makes one 10-inch (25-cm) cake; 10-12 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons plus 4 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons (20 g) plus 3/4 cup (130 g) polenta or stone-ground yellow cornmeal (I used a combo of polenta and cornmeal)

1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil

5 large eggs, at room temperature

2 large egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon almond extract OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups (265 g) sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Smear the 1 tablespoon butter all over the inside of a 10-cup (2.5 liter) Bundt cake or tube pan. Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons rosemary evenly into the pan, then dust with the 2 tablespoons (20 g) polenta, tilting the pan to coat the sides.

To make the cake, into a small bowl, sift together the flour, 3/4 cup (130 g) polenta, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs, egg yolks, and almond or vanilla extract.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the 1/2 cup (4 oz/115 g) butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly dribble in the egg mixture, a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture along with the 4 teaspoons rosemary just until incorporated. Don't overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving platter.

Serving: This cake goes well with whipped cream and fresh summer fruit or poached pears.

Storage: The cake will keep at room temperature for up to 4 days, well wrapped. It can be frozen for up to 2 months.


  1. is there any way to modify this recipe so that's it's sugar free?

  2. Hi Maria,

    I have been thinking a lot about this modification...sugar provides tenderness, volume, and flavor to the cake and therefore without the sugar the cake may turn out flatter and not as tender...

    You could try a Cake & Pastry flour to keep it tender without the added sugar? Again it would be flatter without the added gluten and sugar.

    Or maybe you could try 1/2 the sugar...I feel like the cake would actually still taste ok without sugar but just more cornbread-y taste than cake-taste. If you used a sugar substitute it might come out flat and off-tasting?

    So do some experimenting and let me know how it goes...I will try to do some experimental cooking for you as well...good luck!

    To be continued

  3. Thank you so much for your suggestions....I am experimenting with low sugar desserts. Would agave or honey be good substitutes?

    I'll keep you posted!
    Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. I think honey would actually be a great substitute. Honey is slightly sweeter than sugar (it is fructose whereas table sugar is sucrose)...so I would use a touch less than the recipe calls for.

    As for agave, I have not used it much in baking. I think it is even sweeter than honey. But I lived in a big house last year and people were always playing around with agave.

    The recipe has leavening in it so now that I think about it, a sugar substitute (honey etc) would work just fine.

    I think it is great that you are experimenting with low-sugar desserts.

    Oh, and my boss sent me this link which you might find interesting/helpful: http://www.dispatchkitchen.com/live/content/food/stories/2010/09/15/main.html?sid=101


  5. Cashew nuts are packed with antioxidants and stimulate the immune system. Want to buy jecashew nuts online? Order cashew nuts at Allnuts of course! Everyone knows these wonderfully healthy nuts. They stand out because of their specific kidney shape and have long been used as "cocktail nuts". When we buy cashew nuts, these are usually peeled. In the natural form, the nuts are covered by a woody peel. This has a brown-gray color and feels smooth. Cashew nuts grow on the cashmere tree, which some people also call acajuu tree or elephant lock tree. This tree originally only grew in the Caribbean, Central America and in the North of Brazil. This distribution area was later extended to India, Brazil, Nigeria, Mozambique, Indonesia and Tanzania. Cashewnoten

  6. Pecans are very tasty and are full of vitamin E and antioxidants. Do you want to buy pecans online? Order pecans at Allnuts! Pecans are also so popular with many people. They are a bit like walnuts and that is no wonder. The pecan tree and the walnut tree belong to the same botanical family.However, unlike walnut, pecans are not native nuts. You won't find pecan trees in our region. These trees are native to the southern United States. There is a warm temperate climate to a subtropical climate and pecans are doing very well there. They can reach a height of 50 to 60 meters! It is therefore no wonder that the United States is the world's largest producer of these nuts. However, the trees can also grow in other subtropical areas.Certain varieties of pecan trees that grow in the United States can also come into their own in European countries with a similar climate. Although pecans resemble walnuts, we still see striking differences. The peels of pecans are already hard while they are still hanging on the tree.When they are ripe, the two halves of the casing spontaneously open. You do not need a nutcracker for this. Pecannoten