Polenta and Olive Oil Cake with Date Syrup

It's like a funny, brown hat

We had a can of date syrup in our cabinet for a few years. I know, shame on us. We’ve also been wanting to try cakes with polenta or olive oil or both for sometime. So why not kill three birds with one stone? The recipe is lightly adapted from one that appeared in Bon Appetit in 2006. We wanted to use date syrup in the batter, not just on the side and we never have couscous in the house, but always have polenta. We also chose a Muscadet over a heavier sweet wine and ditched a whipped topping. To our Western tongues date syrup tastes a bit like molasses, but thinner and sweeter. You can find it at Middle Eastern markets.

Polenta and Olive Oil Cake with Date Syrup

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup uncooked polenta
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Muscadet wine
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Zest from one orange
  • 1/2 cup date syrup, plus extra for brushing

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line bottom of springform pan with parchment paper round; brush parchment and pan with olive oil. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Stir in polenta. Whisk olive oil and wine in another medium bowl.

Using stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, eggs, and 1/2 cup sugar on high in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about seven minutes. Stir in orange peel. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in flour mixture alternately with olive oil mixture each. Stir in date syrup. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap pan lightly to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake cake until dark brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer cake to rack and cool in pan at least 30 minutes. Brush top with extra date syrup while still warm. Top with chopped dates for garnish if desired.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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56 Responses to Polenta and Olive Oil Cake with Date Syrup

  1. rutheh says:

    Am going to Stamoolis bros and look for date syrup and while I’m at it, will photograph interior. Never made a cake with these ingredients but it sounds good.

  2. Amrita says:

    Never really had date syrup, but I’m guessing it would have the same dark smoky-sweetness as dates do? Love the idea of using polenta as well as flour as the base!

  3. A_Boleyn says:

    What an intriguing cake … so many unique ingredients. 🙂

  4. ChgoJohn says:

    Both versions are completely new to me but I do agree with your use of a drier wine, especially if the date syrup is as sweet as you say. WIth each passing year, my threshold for sweets drops a little bit. 😦

  5. rsmacaalay says:

    I wonder how this tastes, this is something new for me, I havent tried this type of cake. Looks delicious

  6. I love oil oil and polenta cakes but this one is totally new to me. It looks so sticky and gorgeous!

  7. mythineats says:

    This cake looks really good, I like the fact that you use polenta and olive oil, ingredients which are extremely easy to find here in Italy. I’ll try to make this and let you know how it turns out. Nice post

  8. I’ve never seen date syrup but I’m going to find some. There will be someone in Australia who imports it. I’d love to make this cake.

  9. I have never had a cake like this before it sounds very interesting and delicious and of course super moist. Which county did this dish get passed down from? Italy? Middle East. It is really unique, you know I might just have to go ahead and pin this one. Take Care, BAM

  10. I have always enjoyed cornbread with a meal. Will have to try polenta cake for dessert.

  11. This is a fabulous recipe and cake that you have made from it. I have wanted to make a polenta cake as well. I keep running into various recipes and saving them for “one day I will make this”. Thanks for renewing my desire. T

  12. This looks like a fantastic cake. I haven’t cooked with polenta yet but thought one could only make savory dishes with it. The glaze on top of the cake looks divine.

  13. Norma Chang says:

    Date syrup is new to me. Must Google to learn more. Your cake sounds moist and delicious, I can see myself with a huge wedge and a good cup of coffee.

  14. Never heard of such a thing. Very unique and what a pretty presentation!

  15. nrhatch says:

    I love dates . . . I would steal the centerpiece of that cake! 😉

  16. Do the eggs make it count as breakfast?? : )

  17. BrainRants says:

    This would be an interesting change from “regular” cake.

  18. Carolyn Chan says:

    Gosh that cake looks AMAZING!

  19. sallybr says:

    Whaaaat? You did not make the date syrup from scratch? Using dates grown in your own backyard and fertilized with compost from the dejects of your fantastic kitchen? Oh, Greg, how can Katherine stand it? 😉

    (the cake does look amazing, and now you make me want to find some date syrup – see what you did?)

  20. Kristy says:

    I’ve never even considered a cake with polenta and olive oil. The date syrup sounds interesting. I’m not a huge fan of molasses, but perhaps the extra touch of sweetness in the date syrup is just what I need.

  21. Mad Dog says:

    That looks amazing – I’d really like to try that!

  22. Amy says:

    I’ve been wanting to make an olive oil cake for a long time. This is a great version! Love the addition of polenta. Yum !

  23. This looks gorgeous, you guys! Beautiful glaze/syrup on top.

  24. spree says:

    Olive oil and polenta cake is on my list of “to’s”… I love the way you and Katherine improvised. I especially liked the substitution of the drier wine for the sweeter one, and really, who needs the extra cream when you’ve got that much moist and gooey goodness going on? Nice job! (can I ask you now – are you pleased with every substitution you made and would you make it just the same again?)

  25. Rachel says:

    This sounds great but where do you get date syrup? I never heard of it, but I bet I’d love it… Mmmmm…

  26. “Olive oil” and “cake” in one sentence sound so enticing!!

  27. chefconnie says:

    Ohh my…goodness.

  28. Yay nice one on using polenta 😀
    This looks fabulous and too moist – the syrup is yum!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  29. peasepudding says:

    I too have been meaning to make a polenta cake for eons, looks great.

  30. Eva Taylor says:

    I’ve always wanted to try to make olive oil cake…I once saw it on Biba’s Italian Kitchen. This one looks very moist and that whipped cream must have been the perfect accompaniment to it. Polenta does sound a bit weird, but I would definitely try it.

  31. I love date and kosher salt. Very nice juicy cake.

  32. k.m. says:

    Nigella Lawson sings the praises of olive oil cake, and since you two agree, now I have no excuse but to make one!

    Now I just need to find some date syrup (though do you think molasses could work, you mentioned the taste being somewhat similar?).

  33. Charles says:

    Wow, just wow! What an incredible sounding cake – and so original too. Polenta is already not something I’d think of for a cake, but with the olive oil as well… I actually can’t imagine what this must taste like, but it looks so rich and glossy!

  34. It seems olive oil is the perfect ingredient for this cake. I’m trying to imagine the blending of flavors.. the dates… the wine… I think the wine would add a completely new dimension to a cake! Lovely! xo Smidge

  35. Purely.. Kay says:

    Now you know I’m a grit girl lol.. and not a polenta girl. But.. in this recipe, I wouldn’t mind trying it again.

  36. That’s really weird…I said to Ed the other day that I wanted to make one of those middle easternish cakes that are dense and have ‘like syrup poured over them or summink’. I didn’t know what to look up so I never got anywhere. This is the type of thing I meant! *Like*

  37. This looks lovely, I am ashamed to say I have never tried an olive oil cake. What would you describe the flavor as?

  38. Tandy says:

    this sounds really good! and looks fantastic 🙂

  39. Way to go Rufus. This is exceptional!

  40. zestybeandog says:

    I have never had an olive oil and polenta cake either! It sounds great 🙂

  41. Jessica says:

    Gorgeous cake! I’m having fun imagining what the taste and texture would be like. Tastes good in my imagination!

  42. I love the combination of flavors and ingredients!

  43. This date polenta cake looks heavenly. So ooey, gooey and amazing!

  44. Winnie says:

    I get my date syrup on organics are for everyone. by far the highest quality, organic one out there. amazing recipe – the combo of the date syrup and muscadet sounds amazing!

  45. I would try this, too. Looks absolutely wonderful and I bet it is.

  46. Sara says:

    I do love polenta cakes. I just bought date sugar for this first time to experiment with a little–so we’re sort of on the same wavelength. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Pingback: For the Love of Blog: Rufus Turns Two | Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

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