Savory Polenta Cake is a brilliant side dish to go alongside meats, poultry or salads. Vegetarian, with a gluten-free option, this recipe is full of delicious, fresh herbs and and earthy, caramelized mushrooms.
Savory Polenta Cake totally proved me wrong in terms of thinking for something to be called "cake," it had to be sweet.
Savory Polenta Cake with Mushrooms is deeply flavored and extremely hearty.
Inspiration for Savory Polenta Cake
I was actually inspired by a sweet polenta cake, Pinza Della Befana, that I saw in La Cucina Italiana Magazine. It's a rich cake made with cornmeal, fruit, nuts, citrus, and fennel seeds.
While I found the sweet cake intriguing and will definitely try it soon -- I wanted to create something similar but savory. Hence this gorgeous savory polenta cake packed with Sherry Mushrooms.
What's in this recipe?
- dried Porcini mushrooms
- Crimini mushrooms
- Parmesan cheese
- thyme, sage
- fine cornmeal
- all-purpose (GF flour option in recipe below)
- sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda
How is savory polenta cake different from cornbread?
This savory cake is not unlike cornbread. It does differ slightly, though:
- It includes a generous amount of Parmesan cheese in the batter, which makes it a bit heartier.
- This cake serves twelve, and only has one tablespoon of sugar, so it's much, much less sweet.
- It's packed with vegetables and herbs.
How to Make it
- Hydrate dried Porcini mushrooms with sherry, water, thyme and sage.
- Combine cornmeal, flour, Parmesan, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add Sherry Mushrooms to the hydrated mushrooms.
- Whisk together buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and then fold in the mushroom mixture.
- Pour into a prepared cake pan and bake in a 400°F oven for about 40 minutes.
- Cool and serve.
(More detailed instructions are below.)
- If you cut and serve this too soon after baking it, it will be a much looser consistency than the "cake" you see above.
- Once the cake is golden on top, be sure to cover loosely with foil -- it will likely need to bake a bit more at this point, but the foil will prevent the top from becoming too dark.
- Should you find yourself with leftovers, this cake is also fabulous if you slice it once it's very firm (the next day), and then fry the slices in olive oil -- it adds an additional "crust."
- I like this best served warm, but room temperature and hot is good, too.
Salads to serve with Savory Polenta Cake:
More of my favorite polenta recipes:
- Creamy Gorgonzola Polenta
- Creamy Rosemary Dubliner Polenta
- Creamy Parmesan Polenta with Crispy Pancetta
I hope you enjoy and love this recipe as much as I do!
Savory Polenta Cake with Mushrooms
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, washed and dried, finely chopped
- 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces
- 1¾ cup fine cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (for gluten-free use the same measurement of Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1½ cups Sherry Mushrooms (click here for recipe)
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and use about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to grease a 9 x 3-inch round cake pan. Then line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Add the water, sherry, thyme, sage, 1¼ teaspoon of the salt, and dried mushrooms to a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat off, keep the pot covered, and let the mushrooms hydrate to become soft, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, Parmesan, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Once the porcini mushrooms are soft, remove the lid and add the Sherry Mushrooms to them. Set aside.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs and remaining 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in this wet mixture and mushrooms. Mix everything together.
- Pour the mixture into the cake pan, and use a flat-bottomed spreader to smooth the top.
- Bake in the preheated 400°F oven until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Lightly cover with foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then let cool for another 30 minutes before serving.
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Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen
Oh wow, Valentina! This combines three of my favorite things-- vegetarian entree, polenta, and mushrooms! Yum yum. I will definitely have to check out La Cucina Italiana, thanks for the recommendation.
Thanks, Tori! XO
this looks so good ! I'm definitely going to give it a (vegan) try !
Enjoy, Agnès! 🙂
This looks crazy good! I love the combination of polenta and mushrooms and it would add variety to our dinner table if I made it as a cake:) Perfect for a chilly night. We can consider this our chilly season here in SoCal, right?
Thanks, Lana! And yes, it's chilly -- my heat is on! 😉 xo
Waw, Valentina! Wg-hat a superb, very skilled & appetizing polenta & sheery sauteed mushrooms cake!
It looks so smashing & apart!
thank you, Sophie! xo
Can I omit the mushrooms as I do not like it and what vegetables can I use in its place.
Hi Radha, My first thought is caramelized onions. Something like zucchini or red bell peppers could also be nice -- or any combination of all of these. Here are 2 methods of making caramelized onions. This one is quick, and this one takes longer and the onions become sweeter. Thanks for visiting my site and checking out my recipes. Enjoy! ~Valentina
What a sensational savoury cake! I can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks, Valentina, for sharing this amazing recipe.
Thank you, Angie! 🙂 ~Valentina
Killing it with all the mushroom recipes! We dearly looooove mushrooms! Pinning, this looks soo scrumptious Valentina!! xo
Yay! Thanks so much, Kim! 🙂 ~Valentina
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
Anything with polenta and I'm in and such a lover of mushrooms so I know I'd love this savoury cake! Bet this would be delicious with chili or even with a fried egg for breakfast! YUM!
I love the fried egg idea! Perfect. Thanks, Dawn. 🙂 ~Valentina
With my love of both polenta and mushrooms, made thus almost every week, this is indeed a very interesting recipe. Shall definitely try but as a main meal with one of the interesting salads, Since I do not usually keep white floor in the pantry am wondering whether a wholemeal one would make it too heavy - guess I shall have to try . . .
Hi Eha. Happy New Year. I hope you are/were not too near any of the fires over there, I'm so very sorry for what's been happening. I think of all that's been lost, all of the animals, homes, people, everything, it's just so very heartbreaking.
Where I am in California, we've had tragic fires, too. I've been fortunate to live where we've been just out of reach. I send so much love to Australia.
And thank you for taking a look at my recipe. I hope you try and enjoy. ~Valentina
Thank you on behalf of all Australia ! Appreciated ! I have been right in the middle of the huge fire SW of Sydney for over 8 terrifying weeks . . . neither we nor the country will ever totally recover. The horror experience of roaring oft 200 foot walls of flame oft hundreds of kilometres wide bearing down on one from every side possible will remain in our psyche ! I have my home. The weather has somewhat moderated here tho' not further south. There is some hope of rain showers in a few days. We pray !! And say thank you to the overseas firefighters who have come to help. These are not forest fires, but BUSHfires - even after three days of tuition the incomers are having somewhat of a strange time . . .
Looks and sounds absolutely wonderful, Valentina! Going to share!
Thank you, my friend! 🙂 ~Valentina
David Scott Allen
I probably have that issue of La Cucina Italiana somewhere in the house somewhere… I was very glad to hear recently that the magazine is now being published again. I get it online, but it’s available in print at EATALY. I love what you’ve done here with that recipe for the Pinza Della Befana combined with your Sherry mushrooms! Quite brilliant!
David, I didn't know about EATALY. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂 ~Valentina
This is just wonderful. And a really brilliant idea.
Why thank you! I appreciate it, Mimi. 🙂 Valentina
Perfect comforting dish with our favourite ingredients. Irresistible ! Thank you so much !
Thanks, Davorka. I just loves these flavors, too. 🙂 ~Valentina
David @ Spiced
Interesting! I wasn't familiar with polenta cakes until now. But I totally see what you mean. They're kindof an Italian version of cornbread. And adding the mushrooms here is such a fun idea! I could totally be on board with this recipe. It looks perfect for serving alongside a nice, hot stew.
Ah yes, excellent with a hearty stew. Thanks so much for checking it out, David. 🙂 ~Valentina