Honey Vanilla Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Cream

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Every time I watch the Great British Bakeoff I get myself all excited about what the contestants are baking. So excited, in fact, that I end up making my own versions of their bakes. If you’ve been sticking around for my posts you’ll know this isn’t the first time that I’ve let my obsession get out of hand. You get cake, I get my fix, it’s under control. I swear.

Tamal was making a grapefruit polenta cake, which looked delicious. I, however, don’t love citrus flavors in cakes and made mine with honey and vanilla instead. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been state side during the cold months and I’m loving using these warm cozy flavors again. I’m sure Tamal would understand.

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The rustic and traditional elements here are what I love so much about this cake. Polenta is grainy by nature and gives the cake a cornbread-like texture, but unlike cornbread, is actually enjoyable. The honey cools it down while the vanilla warms it up again. Top it with some mascarpone cream and oh la la.

Last week I made some mini Battenberg cakes, which were a bit tedious at times. This recipe isn’t like that. It’s basic and lovely and if you can do the basics right, this cake beats all. So give it love, give it time and go the extra mile for quality ingredients if you can. You won’t regret it.

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POLENTA CAKE: adapted from this recipe

5 T. granulated sugar

3/4 c. whole milk

1/4 c. whole cream

1 T. vanilla extract

1 sliced vanilla bean

1/2 c. unsalted butter

3/4 t. salt

1 c. instant polenta (I used Delallo brand)

1/2 c. honey

4 eggs, separated

1/4 c. melted honey (for brushing)

350 F / 180 C

  1. Preheat oven and grease a 9 x 9-inch pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, vanilla bean and vanilla extract on low-medium. Bring to a simmer.
  3. Once simmering, remove the vanilla bean and, whisking the whole way, add the polenta and continue whisking for about 30 seconds. It will thicken quickly.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into glass bowl. Add honey, egg yolks and 3 T. of sugar.
  5. In a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and the remaining sugar to soft peaks.
  6. Fold whites into polenta mixture with a spatula until fully incorporated.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and can hold the push of a finger.
  8. Brush top with melted honey and let cool. Serve with mascarpone cream.

MASCARPONE CREAM:

5 oz. mascarpone cheese

1/2 c. whipping cream

1 t. vanilla

2 T. icing sugar

  1. Combine ingredients in stand mixer with whisk attachment and beat until thick and fluffy.

 

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