Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Recipe Review: Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake

I like to cook, and because I like to cook I have a folder stuffed with recipes that I found interesting and keep meaning to try. So I'm adding an occasional feature to this blog, Recipe Reviews, which will happen whenever I feel like trying something out. (about every 2-3 weeks)
This recipe: Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake, comes from the Wall Street Journal. I like plums, I love rosemary and cornmeal makes a nicely textured cake. So I bought some plums and this is the result.

Isn't it pretty? The carmelized fruit contrasts beautifully with the nicely browned cake. Icing would be a complete waste of time.

The problem is that it's looks better than it tastes. There is a lot of fresh rosemary in this cake, and the herbal aroma of the rosemary combines with the sweetness of the plums and gives off the unmistakable odor of cough drops. Not something you want in a cake. So I will not be making this again, at least not without changing the recipe a lot.
On the positive side, the recipe made a lot of carmelized plums, far too many plums to fit in the cake. But leftover plums make a wonderful yogurt topping.  Plain yogurt and carmelized plums - yummy!

Caramelized Plum and Rosemary Polenta Pound Cake
  • ½ pound unsalted butter, plus more for buttering loaf pan
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (or any brandy)
  • Prepared plums (recipe below)
Note: All ingredients should be at room temperature.
1. Butter a 5½x10-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter paper. Set pan aside.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Sift together flour, baking powder, cornmeal and salt.
4. Cream together butter, rosemary, lemon zest and sugar until very light and fluffy.
5. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
6. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with cognac, just until well-combined. Spoon 2/3 of batter into pan. Evenly distribute one-quarter of prepared plums over batter. Add rest of the batter. Spread remaining fruit over the top and, using a spoon or fork, push pieces down a little.
7. Bake for 60 minutes or until done, testing with a toothpick after 50 minutes. Cake should be nicely brown, pulling away from the edges of the pan and not too dry. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert cake onto your hand or a rack and quickly re-invert it onto another rack.
8. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The cake is also delicious sliced and toasted.)
Prepared Plums
  • 6 large plums, pitted and cut into 6-8 wedges each
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (or rum or any brandy)
In a medium saucepan, cook plums with sugar, salt, lemon zest and rosemary over medium heat until fruit is very soft but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cognac.

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