Sweet sweet Friday: Polenta Cake

About three years ago my sister told me about a great cake she’d made from a Waitrose recipe card – the sort of thing they post near the entrance so you can duly go and buy all the ingredients on the way. For those of you unfamiliar with Waitrose, it’s the poshest of supermarkets in the UK, where even the own-brand stuff looks incredibly stylish on the shelves. I used to send my mum the Waitrose magazine and she’d bemoan the fact that so many of the ingredients it mentioned would be impossible to find in provincial New Zealand. Ho-hum.

Anyway, I remember my sister giving me the recipe card, which I duly tucked into my notebook. It fell out when I was looking for something else recently and it’s been sitting on the pile of bills on the bench ever since. I’m now about as far from a Waitrose as you can get (as are all my sisters, incidentally), but this is still a great cake.

Berry Polenta Cake
Polenta gives this cake a fantastically gritty texture – it’s the sort of thing you need to eat with a fork on a plate. Don’t give it to a small child indoors unless you have a fondness for sweeping up crumbs. The original recipe was a bit hard to follow so here’s a re-written version. I’ve also used orange zest, juice and orange flower water rather than the lemon zest, juice and vanilla in the original.

175g soft butter

175g caster sugar

3 medium eggs, beaten

150g fine polenta (the instant variety is best for cakes)

100g ground almonds

1tsp orange blossom water (or vanilla)

2tsp baking powder

350g mixed berries, fresh or frozen (or sliced stonefruit – I threw in a couple of Omega plums)

zest of 1 orange


50g caster sugar

juice of an orange (the one you zested for the cake will do nicely)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 23cm cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then add the eggs and polenta and beat again until well mixed. Fold in the ground almonds, orange flower water and baking powder, followed by the fruit and orange zest. Spoon this mixture into the prepared tin and smooth down with a spoon. Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden and a skewer comes out clean. This may take longer if you use frozen berries.
About five minutes before you think the cake is done, put the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. Let bubble away for a couple of minutes, until syrupy.
When the cake comes out of the oven, stab it with a skewer (this is incredibly satisfying) and pour the syrup over the top. Let cool completely in the tin, then turn out and sift icing sugar over the top. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or whipped cream.



  1. March 10, 2011 / 6:44 pm

    oh my gosh!! i have THIS recipe card in my recipe book…and have never made it!!!! I've been off the grid for a bit, but so happy to be back and read your blog…i am drooling!! thanks for brightening my day 🙂

  2. March 10, 2011 / 6:57 pm

    Perfect timing as always. I was just trying to come up with a dessert option for Friday night's dinner – there's my challenge! Sadly, I won't be able to use authentic Waitrose ingredients either but will see what I can find!

  3. March 10, 2011 / 7:00 pm

    This is so weird – I've been googling polenta cake recipes all day and none of them were appealing to me….until now! Hello berries (which I have in my freezer)! This baby is getting veganized immediately. Ta!

  4. March 10, 2011 / 8:09 pm

    this is just the kind of moist, fruity cake that I love… a perfect cake really… and what a lucky find… just fell into your lap!

  5. March 10, 2011 / 9:11 pm

    OMG this looks so moist and delicious, I've never baked with polenta but you have made me consider it.

  6. March 11, 2011 / 12:25 am

    I enjoy going to Waitrose. Expensive, yes. But they have nice stuffs. I'm going this weekend for food shopping and I often pick up the recipe cards on the counter. I haven't tried any of them though.
    The cake looks wonderful. I really like the gritty texture of polenta. yum.

  7. March 11, 2011 / 12:39 am

    Hello gals, thanks for your comments.

    Peasoupeats, I'd love to see a veganised option – let me know what you come up with!

    Carol and Janice – don't fear polenta, it is your friend. Buy the instant sort (unless you like lots of standing around stirring) and you'll never look back!

  8. March 11, 2011 / 2:10 am

    Sorry, that should have said, hello gals and Michael!
    Also, welcome back Victoria, nice to have you around again.
    And Ann, this will be a doddle for a housewife as accomplished as yourself…!

  9. March 11, 2011 / 7:45 am

    This looks amazing, I've just found out I will be having guests for the rugby tomorrow and this will be perfect!

  10. March 11, 2011 / 8:58 am

    Okay you have changed my mind from making an Orange cake this afternoon to a Polenta cake. I'll be making this for sure now, as I have some instant polenta to use by its sell by a date. Guess what also have some frozen berries in the frezer, guess I am set then.

    A sweet polenta dish will also be welcome fromt he savoury ones I tend to make. Thank you KitchenMaid.

  11. March 11, 2011 / 2:34 pm

    This looks delicious and love your comment about the kiddies crumbs inside 😉 They shall eat with a fork as you suggest. Love the touch of orange flower water in there too. Sounds a lovely cake with a twist.

  12. March 11, 2011 / 4:48 pm

    This is such a lovely cake. You've inspired me to pull berries from the freezer and to fire up my oven. Have a lovely day. Blessings…Mary

  13. March 11, 2011 / 4:50 pm

    Bookmarked! I've been meaning to try a polenta cake for ages and this looks like a mighty fine place to start. Thanks for sharing.

  14. March 11, 2011 / 6:27 pm

    Guess what? I've given you a 'Stylish Blogger Award':) Go on over to my blog to find out what to do next! Congratulations! Woot!

  15. March 14, 2011 / 9:18 pm

    Dear Kitchen Maid,
    I made a slight variation of this cake – used frozen blueberries and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Was lovely. Will be posting it soon. Thank you for inspiring.

  16. March 18, 2011 / 10:02 pm

    just saw this cake on mangocheeks and had to check it out – looks lovely and will be bookmarked

    never knew the waitrose was the poshest of supermarkets in the UK – hardly ever went there when I lived there because I rarely lived near one – would go to M&S for posh food instead

  17. January 23, 2012 / 7:43 pm

    Thanks for posting this, I was looking for a polenta cake to take to my cake club and this super helped me out with the recipe. It's a stunner of a cake. Sure I'll be back for some more recipes.

    ps as a student I only frequent Waitrose on Friday nights when they reduce everything that hasn't sold.

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