I'm not sure where I first heard of polenta, perhaps a few months after the husband and I were married and I was desperate for a new and easy dish. I whipped it together --topping it with spaghetti and italian sausage -- and a new meal was born.
Then, I heard of using polenta in a cake, and of course, being the ever-experimental cook that I am (I rarely cook things twice in a month or even two months), I decided I needed to try it.
If you're not familiar with polenta, it's a fine-grain cornmeal and it's used in a lot of Italian dishes. Mixed with ricotta, it can stand on its own, but I often top it with a sauce of some sort.
Polenta cake, is somewhat like a fancier cornbread. It's denser than most cakes and can be made a little savory, more that sweet, however I decided to go the sweet route.
The verdict? Different, but we liked it.
lemon polenta cake (recipe altered from the NY Times.)
- one stick of butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup fine-grain polenta (corn meal works in a pinch!)
- 4 room temperature eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- juice & zest of 1 1/2 lemons
-prepare a spring-form pan by greasing it and coating it in flour.
- preheat oven to 360 degrees.
- using an electric mixer, mix the four eggs and sugar in a large bowl until it's become light and fluffy. stir in lemon zest.
- in a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and polenta
- fold in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, followed by 1/3 of the butter and stir gently. Alternate until everything is incorporated and just mixed.
- Bake in the pan for 30 to 40 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean.
While the cake cooks, create a simple syrup by heating a half cup of water and a third cup of sugar on the low until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens. Stir in the juice of the lemon and a half.
Remove the cake and let cool for 10 minutes. While the cake is still in the pan, pour the sugar mixture over the cake. Let stand another 10 minutes before removing the cake. Dust with powdered sugar and lemon slices if desired.
This cake is delicious with raspberry jam or another fruit compote, and whipped cream. I also recommend serving it with a cup of tea.
p.s. I found a gluten-free version on top with cinnamon. Check it out here!