polenta plum cake

I’m not a big fan of flashy.

I don’t know how to do blingy.

But I can do humble pie. And I can DEFINITELY do humble cake. 

polenta plum cake

This is the cake equivalent of an unpretentious, weird-looking heirloom vegetable…quietly lovely and more delicious than its humble appearance suggests. It’s the sort of thing I imagine my pilgrim forefathers banging out with their New World cornmeal and their yellow cast-iron skillets. 

This crisp, crumbly cornbread cake is fragrant with browned butter and vanilla, with a tart bite brought by the melty plum slices embossing the bottom of the skillet. If you were wondering, I’ve dubbed it “polenta plum cake” purely for alliterative punch — it’s pretty, no?

Anyway, a whole skillet of this alliterative delight guarantees you a week of delish brekkies, afternoon coffees and midnight teas.

plum cake




9 or so plums (or figs, cherries, or peaches)

120 g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter

60 g (a bit more than 1/4 cup) coconut oil

180 g (3/4 cup) unrefined cane sugar

4 eggs

2 tablespoons full-fat yoghurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200 g (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) fine polenta

45 g (1/2 cup) almond meal

6 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F.

Grease your cast-iron skillet or large cake tin and arrange slices of plum in a pattern that your eye finds pleasing.

polenta plum cake

Cook the butter in a small saucepan until the milk solids separate and turn a deep brown colour. This transformation always turns me into a gleeful Oompa Loompa for a split-second trip. The nutty caramel fragrance is so sweet it’s almost hallucinogenic…it’s easy to imagine my kitchen floating in a river of molten dulce de leche somewhere in Willa Wonka’s factory.

browned butter

Anyway, when it reaches this stage take it immediately off the heat and pour into a cool glass mixing bowl to keep it from burning. Add the coconut oil, stirring until it melts. Wait several minutes for the mixture to cool.

Whisk in the sugar and eggs, then the yoghurt and vanilla extract. Fold in the polenta, almond meal, baking powder and salt. Carefully pour over the plum arrangement in your skillet/tin.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and springy, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. I covered the cake with a foil hat the last 10 minutes, but maybe it’s just my overzealous oven.

Enjoy! (plain, with butter, with a dollop of barely sweetened yoghurt or whipped cream or ice cream, or whatever else you fancy)


polenta cake all gone