Gluten-Free Rustic Polenta Cake with Resinous Herbs

Planning to entertain for New Year’s Eve or need to bring something along to someone else’s soiree? Or just looking to do some home baking in the eye of the hurricane between Christmas & 2013? We’ve got just the thing! This relatively easy recipe using exceptional and unlikely ingredients such as our Red Flint polenta turns out a dessert that is rustic and refined at the same time.

Another brilliant recipe from our pal Francis Olive, this one is sure to be a crowd wow-er. And an extra bonus, it’s gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Rustic Polenta Cake with Resinous Herbs
Makes one 9″ cake
From Francis Olive


1 cup Community Grains Floriani Red Flint polenta
1.5 cups finely ground almond meal, preferably with the skin on
1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
1 cup plus 2 TB crème fraîche, cold *
4 oz (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold
3 large eggs, cold
1 TB pure bourbon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
sage or rosemary leaves
a few rasps of nutmeg

* For the crème fraîche: in a glass measure add 2 TB buttermilk to 1 cup heavy cream. Stir to incorporate, and leave out on the counter for 24 hours until it thickens. Stir to check the consistency. If it is a tad thin, allow to ferment a little while longer until it reaches the desired ‘crème fraîche’ consistency. That is to say that it should be the consistency of sour cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a parchment circle to fit the bottom of a 9″ pan with a removable bottom. Lay the parchment in the pan, butter the pan well, then if using sage, lay the leaves in some pleasing arrangement, pressing them into the butter.

If using rosemary, chop finely and scatter over the bottom of the pan.

NOTE: Please do manage a reserved hand with the application of your resinous herbs. A modest bit goes a very long way.


Using your clean coffee mill, whir the floriani red flint polenta in small batches until very fine. In a bowl, whisk together the milled polenta with the almond meal, the salt, a few rasps of nutmeg, and the baking powder. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, scraping down the sides to ensure full amalgamation. When it is pale yellow and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once with each addition. After the final egg is thoroughly incorporated, add the vanilla and mix well.

Using a wide rubber spatula, gently fold the polenta mixture and the creme fraiche into the egg and butter mixture, alternating the polenta and crème fraîche as follows: fold 1/3 of the polenta mixture into the egg and butter mixture, then fold in 1/2 of the crème fraîche, leaving streaks of créme fraîche in the mixture before adding the next addition of the polenta mixture.

Repeat until all of the ingredients are folded, ending with the polenta mixture. do not over mix.

In large spoonfuls, drop the batter into the prepared pan so to anchor the herbs. Carefully spread the top of the batter until smooth, making every effort not to disturb the arrangement of the leaves in the bottom of the pan.

Using your thumb, create a little moat in the batter around the edge of the pan.

Pop into the oven and bake until golden brown around the edges, these which have also pulled away from the sides of the pan a bit, and when a skewer plunged into the heart of the thing comes out clean, 45 – 50 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then remove from the pan, invert, and serve generous wedges with tea.

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