This rhubarb polenta cake has a delicious tartness that shines against the moist, pleasantly crumbly, and grainy texture of polenta.
How is it that it’s June already?!! May was an intense month for me with photography project deadlines, being on our local TV channel (I’ll share more in another post), and traveling to the Bay Area for a friend’s wedding. Work and traveling left me mentally exhausted so I took some time off to recharge. I’m back and excited to post my first recipe for June, a rhubarb polenta cake that I have been waiting for two years to share. Yes, you read that right! TWO years!
Two years ago I grew rhubarb from seeds and they flourished and survived the blazing summer heat of San Diego. Thank you garden god! We couldn’t eat them fast enough. They went into many crumbles, pies, cakes, and ice cream. Then came baby Dillon, a period of adjustment to life with a toddler and a baby (still adjusting by the way), and a hiatus from blogging. I didn’t want another year to go by and not share this recipe with you.
This rhubarb polenta cake is a family favorite. It’s a simple cake that heralds spring. The tartness of rhubarb shines against the moist, pleasantly crumbly, and grainy texture of polenta. Vu is all about chocolate cakes but this particular one he loves, especially warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream. It’s such a cliche but we enjoy a lot of our baked goods with vanilla ice cream. If there’s any leftovers, I reheat it the next day for a minute in the oven and enjoy it with a cup of tea.
I do have to warn you that this rhubarb polenta cake is not for the faint of heart. The tartness of rhubarb does scare some people. If you’re not keen on rhubarb, you can always replace half of the rhubarb with strawberries and it will be as delicious. When I bring it to work, there are two camps--people who grew up with rhubarb and have fond memories of something their grandmas and moms made and will demolish this in seconds. But the other group doesn’t want to to eat a veggie cake. Rhubarb is a vegetable after all. If you like rhubarb and polenta, this cake is for you!
Rhubarb polenta cake
- ¾ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup polenta
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 medium egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one Meyer lemon
- ½ cup milk
- 10 oz rhubarb, cut into batons
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- confectioner's sugar for serving
- vanilla ice cream for serving
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- Trim rhubarb into batons to fit the pan. Cut any thick stems in half along the length.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9 inch round cake pan or spring form pan.
- In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until well combined.
- Add half the milk and half the flour mixture and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed to incorporate any chunks.
- Repeat with the remaining milk and flour mixture.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan, smooth the top with a palette knife.
- Place the rhubarb batons on top.
- Place the cake in the oven in the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven, sprinkle the sliced almonds around the edges and turbinado sugar on top.
- Bake in the oven for an additional 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- Dust the cake with confectioners's sugar and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.