Polenta cake known in Italy as Amor polenta or Dolce Varese, from the name of the city where this dessert was born. This Italian dessert has a beautiful yellow color, characteristic of this cake, given by the use of polenta flour. This here is one of the many polenta recipes you can find in Italy.
Like all traditional Italian recipes, there are different versions of polenta cake that Lombard families have handed down over the years, with very small differences in the doses of the ingredients.
The key ingredients, according to Italian tradition, are polenta flour, but the finer version (in Italy it’s called Fioretto) and chopped almonds. It’s traditionally made in an almond cake loaf pan but the usual plum cake mold work fine too.
Polenta cake recipe is light, fragrant, tasteful, the perfect dessert for children because is healthy and nutritious. Try it with tea, coffee or vanilla cream!
How to Make Italian Polenta Cake
- 100 gr (3,5 oz) of all-purpose flour
- 120 gr ( 4,3 oz) of caster sugar
- 80 gr (2,8 oz) of fine polenta flour or cornmeal
- 100 gr (3,5 oz) of unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- 2 medium whole eggs
- 70 gr ( 2,4 oz) of peeled almonds
- the seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 pinch of fine salt
- icing sugar for decoration
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
Making Polenta cake recipe is easy but you need these fundamental tools below for the perfect success of the recipe.
We used an food processor to chop the almonds.
Step 1) – In a bowl, beat together the softened butter, the eggs and sugar for about 5 minutes until pale and creamy. You can do it by hand with a whisk or with an stand mixer at medium speed. Then add the seeds of the vanilla bean and mix.
Step 2) – Add the baking powder and a pinch of fine salt to the flour then sift them with the help o a flour sieve. Now add them to the bowl with the butter-eggs-sugar mixture and beat to combine.
Step 3) – In a food processor, finely chop the peeled almonds until you get a flour. Be careful not to overheat the machine and do not work the mixture too much otherwise it will become a paste. If you prefer you can use almond flour which however has a finer consistency. The chopped almonds give the polenta cake a coarser and more rustic texture.
Step 4) – Now add the almond flour and the polenta flour. Mix everything very well to combine.
Step 5) – Grease and flour your cake loaf pan then pour the mixture into it. Level the batter with a spatula.
Step 6) – Place the pan on oven rack in the center of the oven. Bake in static oven at 170°C (240 F) for 40 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate to cool.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy cut in slices with a cup of tea or coffee.
How to Store Polenta Cake
You can store Polenta cake at room temperature for a week, under a glass bell. Alternatively, it can be frozen and kept in the freezer for about 1 month.
Polenta Cake Variations
- Gluten- free polenta cake; for a gluten-free Polenta cake you can replace all-purpose flour with rice flour.
- Strega Liqueur; if you like a more aromatic flavor, you can add a shot glass of rum or of Strega Liqueur, an ancient Italian herbal liqueur colored with saffron.
- Lemon polenta cake; add the zest of half a lemon to the mixture to get a lemon-flavored cake.
- Polenta cake alternative shape; an idea for a more elegant and yummy dessert, is to use a fluted tube cake pan. Add a layer of custard on the bottom of the mold so that when you turn it over the cream will be on top!
Polenta Cake: History and Curiosity
Polenta cake or Amor polenta is a famous dessert of the Lombard culinary tradition, in particular of the city of Varese. This is a cake still made according to tradition, in the pastry shops, cafes, bakeries and delicatessens of Varese. For this reason, in italy polenta cake is also called “Dolce Varese”.
The peculiarity of Italian polenta cake is the use of the classic cake mold pan, designed and created specifically for the preparation of this dessert.
In Varese this cake made with polenta and almond flour, has always been a Sunday dessert, and you can find it every time you go to lunch in all the days of celebrations.
It is said that Amor Polenta was born from the hands of Carlo Zamberletti, a historic pastry chef from Varese, in 1939. He wanted to create a dessert for his city with typical local ingredients. He created this mixture with a simple consistency and genuine taste. It became the symbolic cake of Varese and in the mid-1960s it was also highly appreciated by intellectuals and musicians, including the famous soprano Renata Tebaldi.