Olive Oil Polenta Cake – Jangy-Spangly January to you!



I may sound a little over-enthusiastic in my greeting – it is that time of the year when many of us are a little relaxed from time spent with family (mind you we returned to Cape Town two weeks ago), the air is filled with promise as you etch those blank diary pages with entries and what’s this…dinner dates with friends? I recall December when I couldn’t honour most non-work appointments.

I’ve been busy, the year is zipping by already but it hangs ripe with promise. And I’ll stop before I wax Janu-lyrical.

Seriously though, don’t you just love this time of year? All those triumphs (and disasters) yet to arrive.

What do you see the year holding for you? *crystal balls a go-go!*

This Olive Oil Polenta Cake cake was meant to be posted on New year’s day. I took a teeny hiatus, and so here it is now!

It’s adapted from Mario Batali’s Rosemary and Olive Oil cake recipe, from The Babbo Cookbook. This cake has a lovely slightly grainy texture from the polenta, similar to semolina or mielie meal and the sweet summer cherries make it a special tea-time treat.




4 extra large free range eggs
3/4 cup castor sugar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (a mild, non-peppery kind if you can)
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup polenta
1 T baking powder
 1 t fine or course sea salt flakes
350 g cherries, pitted, soaked in 60 ml Kirsch/Kirschwasser for an hour (Kirsch is optional)




1. Preheat oven to 160 degree Celsius and grease a 25 cm non-stick cake pan or springform pan (which I used) with cooking spray.
2. Beat the eggs in a bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds. This is easier than doing it by hand. Add sugar. Continue until it is pale and foamy – may take up to 10 min on medium speed, or longer. 
3. Turn speed to low and add olive oil very slowly, little by little. When incorporated, add the Kirsch in which the cherries were soaking,  to olive oil mixture slowly with mixer still on low speed.
4. Add flour, polenta, baking powder and salt to a bowl and whisk to mix. Add to wet ingredients, with the mixer on low speed. Scrape sides down with rubber spatula and ensure it’s all mixed well. Pour half the batter into greased pan. Arrange cherries over the base. Carefully pour remaining batter over cherries.
5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for even colour. The cake must be a pleasant golden colour and spring back to the touch. Insert a skewer to the centre, and if it comes our clean, the cake is done.
6. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before tipping out or removing the spring. Allow to cool further before removing the bottom, resting on wire rack.
When cool dust with icing sugar.




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