I don’t know if this blog has made it evident yet, but I like strange desserts. I fall for the unexpected techniques and ingredients, the recipes that make you wonder how this process could possibly result in dessert. The clementine cake is definitely like that, and the macaroons kind of are as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics, too—I will not turn down a chocolate-chip cookie or a piece of apple pie. But it’s the odd ones that win me over every time.

A sure sign of a dessert that’s just my type is a baked good with ingredients that you’d normally associate with dinner, not dessert. Like, say, (1) polenta, (2) rosemary, and (3) olive oil. You mean to tell me those things go in a CAKE?? Sold.

Ceci n'est pas un gâteau.

This cake is herby and crunchy and savory in all the right ways, with just enough sweetness to remind you that you’re not eating dinner. It’s delightful.

I should warn you, though—it will be tempting, but don’t eat the raw batter off the beaters. The polenta, so lovely once the cake is cooked, is rather unpleasant raw. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure that the inedible batter is this cake’s only flaw.

Polenta cake with rosemary and olive oil
Adapted from David Lebovitz via Serious Eats

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
2 teaspoons plus 4 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup polenta or stone-ground corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon almond extract o2 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Butter the inside of a Bundt cake or tube pan (make sure to butter thoroughly—it’s not just to help get the cake out of the pan but to help polenta form a crust). Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of rosemary evenly into the pan, then dust with the 2 tablespoons of polenta, tilting the pan to coat the sides.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, 3/4 cup polenta, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the olive oil, eggs, egg yolks, and almond or vanilla extract.

Beat butter and the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly dribble in the egg mixture, a little at a time, until completely incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture along with the 4 teaspoons of rosemary until just incorporated. Don’t overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving plate.

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