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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