Monday, September 03, 2007

Summer in the City


Like most of California, San Francisco has been experiencing a heat wave during the past few days. And when I say heat wave, I mean temperatures in the 80s. You may laugh, but 80 is considered hot in these parts. "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" is a quote (mistakenly) attributed to Mark Twain. Regardless of the origin, there is some truth to the saying (just ask any tourist), that is, until late August or early September. That's when the San Francisco summer really begins. We can bask in some summer warmth during these final summer days and into the start of autumn as well.

What better way to celebrate the season than to throw a party? That's exactly what Ivonne of Cream Puffs In Venice and Lisa of La Mia Cucina are doing. La Festa al Fresco is a virtual patio party and they've invited everyone. All they ask is that guests bring a party dish featuring a fresh, seasonal ingredient. I chose black friar plums and blackberries for my upside down polenta cake. The polenta adds a nice crunch to this not too sweet cake from the August 2007 issue of BHG. The original recipe called for an assortment of berries, but the plums were too good to pass up. But feel free to use blueberries, raspberries or even huckleberries (if you are lucky enough to find some). See you at the party!


Upside Down Polenta Cake
(adapted from Better Homes & Garden August 2007)

3/4 cup fresh plums, chopped
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup polenta
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp lemon or orange zest
2 large eggs, at room temp
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temp
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Icing (optional)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp milk
2 tsp lemon or orange juice

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. Line bottom with a parchment paper circle and butter paper.

Arrange blackberries and chopped plums in the bottom of your prepared pan. In a large bowl, stir together flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk sugar and zest. Whisk in eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir until just combined.

Pour batter over fruit and spread evenly. Bake at 350F for 40-45 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of pan to loosen cake. Invert onto a cake rack. Remove parchment paper.

Optional icing: Whisk sugar, milk and juice until smooth. Spoon over or lightly brush on warm cake.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A gorgeous looking cake! Really beautiful...

Peabody said...

Oh I love polenta cake...they are always moist. Yours looks fabulous.

Meeta said...

Polenta cake with plums and blackberries? Incredible! This one sounds and looks awesome!

Lis said...

Mary you so rock - as always!

A great big THANK YOU for bringing this gorgeous cake to the Festa.. I might have to go back for seconds. ;)

Also.. just want to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do for the Daring Bakers.. we appreciate everything SO MUCH! =)

I made a similar recipe not too long ago - upside down pineapple polenta cake.. was quite yummy! I can just imagine how good it'd be with plums and blackberries. *swoon*


Ivonne said...


That cake has turned me all upside down! Okay, I know, that was corny. But so true! I love it and can't wait to try it. I made a promise to myself to bake with more polenta this fall/winter.

Enjoy the heat wave and thanks for coming to the party!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Goodness, that looks delicious! And, lucky me, I was just blessed with a sack of plums. Yeah! Now I can try your lovely cake.

Connie said...

oh i just bet that is a great flavor/texture combination!

Cynthia said...

Look at all that sweet plum juice and pulp that has sunk into that cake. Gosh Mary, that looks downright delicious.

Mallow said...

That looks amazing!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Polenta cake is one of my favorites and this looks wonderful, Mary!

Deborah said...

I actually saw this recipe in BH&G and wanted to make it. Yours looks lovely!

veron said...

Yeh, I see how 80 degrees is a heat wave out there. What a lovely Polenta cake to bring to the party!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh, I love polenta cakes! I see if I can't be first in line for this one.
I'll be very happy with the plums and blackberries!!
Lush looking here Mary.

Tartelette said...

This is one to bookmark! Simply gorgeous and so fresh!

Farah said...

Having just spent a gorgeous weekend in your city, I'd rather have a heat wave in San Francisco over a heat wave in DC any day! :-) Your polenta cake looks like the perfect accompaniment to the Festa!

Belinda said...

Plums, blackberries, orange kind of cake, Mary! It looks beautiful, and the polenta sounds very interesting. I'd love a sample of this please. :-)

Trinity said...

Looks wonderful! My grandmother is always sending me bags of polenta. The only way I have ever cooked it is the traditional way. Thanks for a new idea!

Terry B said...

I am always attracted to desserts that aren't overly sweet. This sounds perfect!

Amy said...

Mary I love all of your recipes! Another cake that I absolutely have to make! Good way to use my blackberries.

Anita said...

That good old SF summer...gotta love that fog:) I love your cake, it's so colorful and sounds so flavorful!

Dee Light said...

That looks so yummy, and so pretty!!! I made an apple ginger bread upside down cake today. I'll have to try yours next!!!

Cakelaw said...

This cake looks scrumptious!

Karina said...

I love this idea- polenta cake upside down. And blackberries! Brilliant. I imagine this could easily be made gluten-free.

Beautiful cake, Mary!

Karen said...

What a lovely blog you have.

Polenta cake is one of my favorite things to bake -- I will put this one in my "must-try" pile.

Rose said...

This looks beautiful. I'm putting this on my list of "must makes"! Thanks!

kellypea said...

What a beautiful tart. I just bought some polenta and was going to use it for a savory dish, but this sounds and looks so delicious...

Shayne said...

I am going to have to go back and look through my BH&G and find this one, it looks so good. You must have done the recipe justice.

The said...

Looking forward to making this cake, but need clarification on this one ingredient:

"1/3 canola oil"

Cup? Tablespoon?

I don't bake often enough to guess.


Mary said...

Sorry! It's 1/3 cup. I've corrected the recipe.