polenta plum cake

polenta plum cake slice

I had a magical plum the other day. It was one of those rare occasions that impatience can only dream about where a piece of fruit I bought was ready to be consumed at that same instant — and not an hour, or two days and a  dark brown bag later — just there: on the sidewalk, under a grocer’s half awning, in front of those huge pyramid tubs of other fruit. It didn’t want to wait until I got home and unbagged it. And I really shouldn’t have waited, because in just those fifteen minutes of it bobbing along in that bag, it busted just a little bit and I had to eat the whole thing in two pieces, quickly over the sink. It was perfectly sweet.

plum bowl

I haven’t had much to say for a while, but I’m still here, promise. I have spent less time in the kitchen lately, but the time I do spend here is the slow-cooked kind, the kind I’ve been needing lately, amidst a lot of transition. It’s the kind that involves gently crushing tomatoes against the sloping sides of a heavy pan with a generous half stick of butter.

bowl eggshells

polenta plum cake batter

It’s the kind that involves rolling dabs of beef for baked meatballs, grated cheese, toasted walnuts. It’s the kind that involves simmering squash with sage until it’s smooth.. and then eating that for days until the deepest corners of the orange pot have been tapped.

plum polenta cake in pan polenta plum cake with slice

And then there have been the plums, busted, over the sink, but also quartered  and baked into a beautiful brown cake.


Adapted from The Tucci Cookbook via Epicurious.com.

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 13 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 plums, quartered
  • brown sugar for sprinkling

Grease and flour a 9″ round baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add whole eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add vanilla and lemon zest.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in cornmeal-flour mixture, until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth batter top if necessary, to ensure that batter is evenly distributed. Gently press plum quarters into batter, skin side down. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 350 F until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool on wire rack about 15 minutes before running a knife along edge of pan and turning out of pan to finish cooling completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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