Sometimes when I crave a food, I become a little obsessed. And lately that food is polenta. Not the creamy, warm polenta that may be paired with fall or winter vegetables, but summer polenta: grilled polenta squares, cornmeal pancakes and this lemon olive oil polenta cake. Josh and I went to visit my family on Long Island this weekend and since I couldn’t go to the beach (weather), making this lemon olive oil polenta cake with Isabel was my stand-in activity. It underwent a few variations, but I ultimately settled on this moist version made with honey, polenta, olive oil, zesty lemons and almond meal.
I love this recipe because of it’s versatility; if you’re me, you’re likely to have these ingredients on hand at any given time. Paired with yogurt and fruit, it’s the perfect breakfast cake (think fancy corn muffin in cake form). Paired with crème fraîche, coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, it’s the perfect summer dessert. And sliced up plain with some (almond) butter and jam – afternoon snack.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY// Lemon olive oil polenta cake is gluten free and dairy free. In terms of “cake,” it is rather low in sugar (and extremely low in refined sugar), getting some of it’s sweetness from the applesauce. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E, copper magnesium, protein and healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil Make sure to buy genuine non-GMO cornmeal, quality olive oil and organic lemons, since you’ll be using the zest. //
I chose to top this lemony olive oil polenta cake with cherries that I warmed with a bit bourbon and orange juice on the stovetop. I think any summer fruit that you have on hand would work well with this cake; raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, plums, etc.
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons quality olive oil
- ¼ cup natural cane sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- zest of 2 lemons (reserve 1 teaspoon for cherries)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 ½ cups almond meal (see notes)
- large pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 lb fresh cherries
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar or honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- Honey or maple sweetened yogurt, vanilla ice cream or coconut whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, line the bottom of a 10 inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with a bit of olive oil.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, sugar and honey and cream with a hand mixer 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
- Mix in the applesauce, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
- Add the polenta, almond meal, salt and baking powder and mix until just combined.
- Pour evenly into prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool and then gently remove from pan by turning upside down and placing on a serving dish.
- Pit the cherries with a cherry pitter or a sharp pairing knife.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and bourbon.
- Put the cherries in a small skillet, add the cornstarch/ orange juice/ bourbon mixture, the reserved lemon zest and sweetener, if using.
- Stir over medium heat until the juices start to thicken and the fruit is warmed through, about 8 minutes.
- Serve the polenta cake with a large spoonful of boozy cherries and yogurt, coconut whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if using.