Polenta Plum Cake

Polenta Plum Cake Recipe

This is a family favorite, created by Gianni’s aunt Angela. It’s a great cake to make when summer fruit, especially plums, is abundant. It is delicious when made with the plums called for in this recipe, but you may also want to consider using figs—one of my favorite fruits—or pitted sweet cherries. You can substitute about 6 quartered figs or 1/2 cup pitted sweet cherries in place of the plums.–Stanley Tucci

LC Pedantic About Polenta Note

Let’s talk plums for a moment. Aside from eating them while standing at sink, juices dribbling down your chin (not to mention your elbow), is there a more perfect use for plums? Perhaps. This gritty-in-a-good-way cake, which juxtaposes sweet plums with the coarse but not too coarse texture of polenta. That said, there tends to be some confusion about the term “polenta.” Thanks to the mislabeling of some cornmeal, the word has come to be known not just as coarsely ground cornmeal slowly cooked to a rich, creamy, savory porridge, but also as the very grain that’s the essential ingredient. It’s just plain old cornmeal, typically coarsely ground cornmeal, so don’t be surprised that you’ll find no “polenta” in the ingredient list. Kindly note, this recipe for polenta cake and summer plums has a slightly finer crumb than some, relying on finely ground cornmeal or semolina, a coarsely ground wheat common in northern Italy. We just thought you may want to know. Didn’t mean to get all pedantic about polenta. Or plums, for that matter. Mmmm. Plums.

Polenta Plum Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 8


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal or semolina flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 13 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, preferably organic
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 plums, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176ºC). Butter and lightly flour an 8-by-2-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour.
  • 2. In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • 3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.
  • 4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the plum halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter.
  • 5. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 45 minutes.
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