This is the last corn recipe for awhile. Unless someone has a great one to share with me. Ma’am put this recipe up on the site years ago and I admit I have been intrigued by it for some time. I admit I had no real idea what to expect. I was thinking a sweet cornbread like cake with dried fruit and pine nuts and fennel seeds.
I was off on the texture – it is actually a really dense, moist almost torte like cake overflowing with goodies. Well, duh! Aside from the one egg there is no leavening. The 1/2 cup of sugar doesn’t add a lot of sweetness to the batter which is good because of the sweetness of the raisins and figs. And the licorice kick from the fennel seeds really rounds out the flavors.
I followed Ma’am’s suggestion and went with cornmeal instead of polenta. But if you like the coarser texture of polenta go ahead and try it with that.
This recipe can be made gluten free as long you use gluten free bread crumbs and flour (I used brown rice flour).
Polenta Fruit Cake
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-3 tablespoons dry, fine, unflavored bread crumbs
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (1 ½ ounces)
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 cup dried figs, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 400°.
Smear sides and bottom of 8 or 9 inch springform pan with butter. Sprinkle in bread crumbs until sides and bottom of pan are well coated. Shake out any extra bread crumbs. Cover bottom of pan with piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Set aside.
Bring water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and add cornmeal in a steady, stirring in with a hand-held mixer at low speed or wooden spoon. Add salt and oil; cook for 5 to 10 minutes, continuing to stir with mixer until cornmeal thickens and pulls away from sides of pan. Turn off heat.
Add sugar, pine nuts, raisins, figs, butter, egg and fennel seeds. Mix thoroughly. Add flour and stir, scraping sides frequently, until flour is completed mixed into batter. (You can use the mixer if you are very careful not to stir the flour over the sides of the pan.)
Fill pan with batter, leveling with a spatula or your fingertips dipped in water to keep the batter from sticking.
Bake 40 minutes in upper third of oven.
Cool completely before serving. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap to retain moisture.
Makes 6 to 8 generous servings.
Note: You can use course ground cornmeal (polenta), but I found that make the cake too “heavy” for our tastes.
Until next time, happy eating!