This cake is so pretty, I think it speaks for itself. Which is good, because I just don’t have that much to say about it. Not because it’s not delicious-it is and unique-it’s also that, but it’s so many perfect things that I am just at a loss for words.
And, it’s easy. It’s looks are deceiving, because it requires so little effort but the pay-off is so good looking. I think it rivals the most superbly frosted and decorated cake, but with 1/100th of the effort. Plus, this is perfect for all those frosting haters in your life (They exist-I even know some, but I won’t shame them publicly).
The whole polenta thing is something new for me, so if it’s new for you too, don’t be intimidated. Polenta is really just fancy cornmeal-and you can use cornmeal in its place. It gives it a very unique texture, dense but not heavy. It definitely leans toward a coffee-cake. The taste tester loved the polenta-ness of it, but advises that it is at its most polenta-y fresh from the oven and warm!
One warning: the lemon/cranberry combination is tart! It might not be for everyone. It definitely was for the taste tester, who absolutely loved it. But if you are not a lover of lemon or tartness, swap the lemon with orange for a sweeter flavor. You can also omit the lemon from the glaze completely to make it more vanilla-y, just use milk in place of the lemon juice.
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 oz. (3-4 cups) cranberries
- 1¼ cup (250 g) butter, softened
- 1¼ cup (250 g) brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (140 g) polenta
- 11/2 cups (200g) AP flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ cup lemon juice + zest of 3-4 lemons
- For Glaze:
- 1-2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-3 Tablespoons milk
- 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
- Grease a 9 inch cake pan and line with parchment (don't skip the parchment!) A bundt pan would also be beautiful.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 F or 160 C.
- In a small saucepan, melt sugar and butter together until it reaches a light boil. Pour mixture into the bottom of the cake pan, cover with cranberries.
- In a large bowl or base of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.
- Add the dry ingredients, beat until well combined. Add lemon juice and zest.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan over cranberries. Use a spatula to smooth the top.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes, until cake is set, top edges are very slightly browned, and cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
- Upon removal from oven, loosen edges with a knife and turn out onto a cake stand or cooling rack. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove pan. When ready to remove, slowly lift edge with knife to see if cake slips out easily. If not, walk away. Cake should eventually fall relatively easily but it make need some coaxing. Re-attach any cranberries that stick to the pan.
- To glaze:
- Once cooled, prepare the glaze.
- Pour 1 cup powdered sugar into a measuring cup with pourable spout. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon each milk and lemon juice (you can also use milk only if you find cake too tart). Stir and test consistency. The glaze should be pourable, but should not run too much. Adjust until desired consistency is reached.