Crumbly Polenta Cake

Polenta is a widely used ingredient in northern Italy, including within dessert recipes.

This cake recipe sits somewhere between savory cornbread and the classic Zaletti cookie found around Venice. It is in the style of the classic Lombardian cake called torta sbrisolona or crumbly cake. And true to its name, this cake tends to create crumbs when it is cut into. It is, therefore, ideal when served with a large portion of creamy sauce (like our Vegan Zabaglione or Vanilla Cashew Cream) or a fruit compote.

Difficulty: simple
Yield: 23-cm (9-inch) round springform cake pan


  • 190 grams (1 1/3-cups) fine yellow polenta
  • 120 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour (see tips for gf option)
  • 100 grams (1 cup) ground almonds
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 25 grams (about 1 ounce) egg replacer
  • 90 grams (about 3 1/2 ounces) water
  • 150 ml (2/3-cup) unprocessed rapeseed oil
  • 80 grams (1/3-cup) cashew butter
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 75 grams (about 3 ounces) soft silken tofu
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  •  
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Prepare the springform pan by lining the bottom with baking paper and making sure to oil the paper and the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the bottom and sides evenly with granulated sugar.
  • Place the fine polenta, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and sea salt into a food processor. Pulse the mixture 4-5 times to insure it is evenly mixed. Remove the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  • Combine the egg replacer with the water in a small bowl and mix well. Allow this mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the rapeseed oil and cashew butter to the food processor. Mix on high for about one minute to combine. Add the granulated sugar and continue to mix until slightly thickened. Add the reserved mixture of egg replacer and water along with the tofu and ground vanilla to the food processor. Mix on high for 1 minute. Remove the wet ingredients to a mixing bowl.
  • Begin mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The batter should be evenly mixed and smooth – avoid mixing the batter too much. Once the batter is smooth, add it to the prepared springform pan. Tap lightly on a surface to create a smooth top surface. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. A knife inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake pan to release the cake. Remove the outer part of the springform pan and cool the cake completely before serving. Enjoy with cold vegan zabaglione, cashew cream, berries or plain.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

Make sure the polenta is very fine (select fine cornmeal if available). Coarser ground polenta can be placed in a blender and processed into a fine mixture.

Use your favorite gluten free flour mixture in place of the flour to create a GF version of this cake. You will need to add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum and up to 60 ml. (1/4-cup) water to allow for the GF flour absorption.

You can substitute finely ground flax seeds for the egg replacer. Use the same weights and make sure to allow the mixture to soak in the water for at least 10 minutes.

Extra virgin olive oil can be used to replace the unprocessed rapeseed oil.

You can substitute almond butter for the cashew butter in equal amounts. Avoid tahini or other strong tasting nut butters.

Use 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (liquid) instead of the ground vanilla beans.

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