Cherry Almond Polenta Cake

Cherry Almond Polenta Cake

I don’t often cook with polenta. Actually, I never use it. Well, I did once years ago, and I did not like the results. So when I saw that this week’s Food Matters Project recipe chosen by Jen of Prairie Summers was Apricot Polenta Cake, I was a little skeptical.
a rustic low sugar cake made with polenta
Surprise! This cake was actually really good. I think the original recipe, that features dried apricots and orange juice would also be a great combination, but I decided to switch it up and try dried cherries with lemon and . . . what always tastes great with cherries?? Almonds.

It was a gorgeous sunny afternoon here–my deck was calling to me, so I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen. I took a couple of shortcuts:  first, by using prepared polenta found in the natural foods section of my local grocery store and second, by throwing everything into the food processor. As a result this cake was prepped in record time and I was back out in the sunshine.

After reading a bit about polenta, I discovered that it is a staple in Northern Italy, much as pasta is in other parts of the country. Made from cornmeal, it is a complex carbohydrate so it is low on the glycemic index, it contains a bit more protein than a large egg, and it is allowed in a gluten-free diet. Since it is thought of as a peasant food, I decided to keep my cake rustic, leaving the cherries and almonds coarsely chopped.
cherry almond polenta cake
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup prepared polenta
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • finely grated zest of one organic lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-or 9 inch square or round baking pan.

Put sugar, and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and process until thick and creamy. Add polenta, lemon juice, zest and almond extract and mix until smooth. Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the polenta mixture in the food processor. Toss in the dried cherries and almonds and pulse until finely chopped.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer in a glass bowl until soft peaks form. Transfer polenta mixture to the bowl and gently incorporate the beaten egg whites into the batter.
Turn the batter into the greased pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan. Invert it out onto a plate and sprikle with powdered sugar just before serving. Top with fresh fruit, or drizzle with maple syrup, or serve with a dollop of yogurt or whipped cream.
afternoon September sunshine--love this time of year!
Be sure to check out the other Food Matters Project participants’ versions of this recipe here. I’m always blown away by their creative variations.

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About joinmefordinner

. . . living in the Cowichan Valley, cooking for my appreciative family and friends, and taking advantage of all this area has to offer including local organic produce, cheese, wine, artisan breads, and fresh-caught seafood.
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8 Responses to Cherry Almond Polenta Cake

  1. FledglingFoodie says:

    I love the combination of cherries and almonds, too. Great idea!

  2. Erin says:

    Very nice, I love the addition of cherries!

  3. lovely. do you think you’ll cook/bake with polenta more often now that this was such a success for you?

    • Absolutely! I sliced some of the leftover polenta, fried them in a little grapeseed oil, and topped them with parmesan cheese. Next time I’ll drizzle a bit of marinara sauce on them too. Delish!

  4. prairiesummers says:

    I had a similar experience with store bought polenta. It was awful and I never wanted to eat it again. But using corn meal and cooking it yourself was a totally different taste experience and I am glad I tried it again. Cherries and almonds are a match made in heaven :-)

  5. Keely Marie says:

    I was going to tell you to try polenta fried or grilled in a little oil until I saw your comment. THAT converted me. :) Love the addition of almonds.

  6. Lexi says:

    I love the cherries and I am amazed that the pre-cooked polenta worked. Brilliant!

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