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Anna’s polenta cake recipe

By popular (i.e. one) request

This is a combination of a number of recipes but it turned out alright in the end. However, I doubled the amounts below for the cake in the picture, as I was using a larger tin. The recipe below is for a 24cm tin. I found that the taste of orange was too strong when doubling the orange factor so would not recommend doubling this ingredient if making a larger cake. I am also sceptical about the cherry/orange combination. I would go for one or the other. Also, if making for celiacs then check that the chocolate for the glaze is gluten-free too.

Cake mixture:

200g fine uncooked polenta
1/4 pint of milk
some boiling water
200g plain chocolate, chopped
5 eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
175g caster sugar
115g ground almonds
50g butter
75g corn flour
rind of an orange, finely grated
115g cherries from a jar — fresh if you can get them, but remove the stones — why not soak them in some kirsch (1-2 tbspns) to give a whiff of black forest gateaux?


Equal measures of dark chocolate and sour cream (minimum two bars of chocolate)


Preheat oven to gas mark 5. Grease 24cm cake tin, line with greaseproof paper, and grease that.

Boil milk and add polenta (maybe have a bit of extra boiled milk in reserve in case you think the mixture is too dry). You will have a moist lumpy mixture with dry patches! Use your fingers or a fork to stop it becoming a large blob of granules stuck together. You are aiming for the granules to have come into contact with a weeny bit of moisture.

Whisk butter and sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is thick and pale. Melt chocolate using the bain marie method (choc in pyrex bowl in pan with boiling water to heat bowl) and beat into the mixture. Fold in polenta, flour, ground almonds and orange rind (just do figures of eight with wooden spoon).

Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Take about 1 tablespoon of egg whites and stir it into the chocolate mixture to make it lighter – do not worry if you need to use a bit more to make the mass loose enough to fold in the rest. Fold in the rest of the egg whites and if using then add the cherries at this stage.

Put mixture into tin. Just in case your cake tin leaks place a baking tray at the bottom of the over to catch any drips. Bake until well risen and firm, or 45-55 mins. Turn over tin to drop cake onto wire rack and let it cool. If going for the kirsch option then you might want to add a few drops to the sponge after it has cooled (make a few holes in the sponge with a skewer or knitting needle before adding approx 1-2 teaspoons).

For the glaze, you need to break up the chocolate and melt in a bain marie with the sour cream. I think I used 2 bars of chocolate. Once this has formed a lovely shiny sauce — stir with wooden spoon — then remove from heat and put on cake using a spatula. The glaze tastes yummy when cold so you will not regret any excess. Lovely to dip walnuts into.

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