Olive Oil Polenta Cake With Poached Pears

Unless it is a chocolate one, when I want to make a cake I prefer a rustic one like this delicious recipe made with olive oil and coarse cornmeal. You could use any fresh fruit topping with this basic cake although during the fall I usually top slices of cake with poached apples or pears. The cake itself is not too sweet, simply flavored with lemon and the tender poached fruit and syrup spooned on top just adds a special finishing. Use a basic olive oil not an extra virgin type for this cake as you do not want the olive oil to overpower the other flavors. I used an 8 inch fluted tart pan for my cake, although you could use a ring pan or even a simple cake pan as well.

Cake Before Being Sliced

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Olive Oil Polenta Cake With Poached Pears

This rustic cake made with olive oil and cornmeal is lovely topped with poached fruit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Large Eggs At Room Temperature
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • Zest And Juice From 2 Lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/3 Cups Coarse Cornmeal
  • 1 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

Pear Topping:

  • 6 Fresh Ripe Pears, Peeled, Cored And Cut Into 1 Inch Pieces
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • 1 Cup Sweet Vermouth or Marsala
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Walnuts

To Serve:

  • Whipped Cream
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the olive oil slowly continuing to mix the ingredients.
  4. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix.
  5. Stir together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  6. Slowly fold half the cornmeal mixture into the eggs with half the lemon juice.
  7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and lemon juice, mixing just until combined.
  8. Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 8 inch tart pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and cake is light brown.
  9. In a heavy saucepan, heat the sugar and vermouth until boiling.
  10. Add the pear pieces and cook until the pears are tender and the syrup has thickened, about 10 minutes, then cool.
  11. Once cool, fold in the walnut pieces.
  12. To serve, place a slice of the polenta cake on a plate and spoon some of the pears and syrup on top.
  13. Place a dollop of whipped cream on the cake and sprinkle on a little cinnamon, and serve.