Polenta Cake with Lemon Rosemary Syrup


* 1 stick (114g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 1½ cup (187g) all-purpose flour
* 2 teas. baking powder
* 1 scant teas. fine salt
* ¾ cup (105g) medium to fine grind polenta
* 4 eggs, room temperature
* ¾ cup (150g) sugar
* zest of 1½ lemons (or other citrus)
* 2 teas. rosemary, very finely chopped


* 1 branch of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
* ½ cup water
* ⅓ cup (66g) sugar
* zest of ½ lemon
* juice of 1 lemon

Rhubarb-Cherry Compote

* 1½ - 2 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen
* 1 cup frozen sour cherries, fresh or frozen
* couple of big splashes of white wine
* comparable splash of sugar
* 4 – 5 heaping tablespoons orange syrup, if available (I used leftover syrup from candied orange peels)

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees and butter & flour a nine-inch spring-form cake pan (or bundt cake pan). Melt a stick of unsalted butter and set it aside to cool.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and polenta (e.g. Anson Mills, Bob’s Red Mill, fresh! and you could use quick-cooking polenta too if that’s what you have).

Using an electric mixer, whip four room-temperature eggs and sugar until they are airy and more than doubled in volume; at the end, add the grated lemon zest and the very finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Carefully fold in about a third of the dry ingredients and then half of the melted butter; repeat until everything is incorporated. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes; the sides should slightly come away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. It should be well baked; don’t worry that it’ll be too dry since more moisture will be added later.

Make the syrup while the cake is in the oven. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan; stir over heat until the sugar dissolves; then add the rosemary and the lemon zest. Bring to a boil, and let it steep for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve. Before using, add the lemon juice.

When the cake has cooled for 10 minutes, spoon the syrup evenly over the cake (still in the pan). Let it soak and cool in the pan, then remove. Serve at room temperature, plain, with whipped cream or, perhaps best of all, with a fruit compote.

To make the Rhubarb Compote (obviously my own off-the-cuff addition), mix all ingredients over heat until rhubarb begins to break up. Serve warm over cake.