Italian Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Cream

Cuts into 6-8 slices


  • 1 tsp butter and flour, for the tin/pan
  • 100 g/3 ½ oz. / ¾ cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 40 g/1 ½ oz. / ¼ cup polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 large/extra-large eggs
  • 150 g/5 oz. / ¾ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 5 tbsp. milk
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsps. raisins or sultanas/golden raisins
  • 75 g/3 oz. /6 tbsps. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 medium dessert pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsps. apricot jam/jelly
  • 175 g/6 oz. / ¾ cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1-2 tsp sugar
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz. / ¼ cup double/heavy cream
  • 2 tbsps. amaretto liqueur or rum
  • 2-3 tbsps. toasted flaked almonds
  • icing/confectioners· sugar, for dusting


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Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5, 10 minutes before baking. Butter a 23 cm/9 inch springform tin/pan. Dust lightly with flour. Stir the flour, polenta/cornmeal, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together.

Beat the eggs and half the sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the milk and almond extract. Stir in the raisins or sultanas/golden raisins, and then beat in the flour mixture and 50 g/2 oz. /4 tbsps. of the butter. Spoon into the tin and smooth the top evenly.

Arrange the pear slices on top in overlapping concentric circles.

Melt the remaining butter and brush over the pear slices.

Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes until puffed and golden and the edges of the pears are lightly caramelized. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin.

Heat the apricot jam/jelly with 1 tablespoon water and brush over the top of the cake to glaze.

Beat the mascarpone cheese with the sugar to taste the cream and amaretto or rum until smooth and forming a soft dropping consistency. When the cake is cool, sprinkle over the almonds and dust generously with the icing/confectioners· sugar.

Serve the cake with the liqueur-flavoured mascarpone cream on the side.

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