Rosemary- Polenta Pumpkin Spice Cake

Count me in as someone who has always been a bit skeptical on whether or not rosemary has any business being in a dessert recipe.

Last year I made a holiday cookie recipe- Rosemary Shortbread Cookies. My husband scoffed and asked me why I was incorporating backyard plants into my cookie recipes. He could never get over the fact that they had such a savory flavor and thus declared them ‘inedible.’ My sister, however, was a big fan of these cookies, and she noted that they were the best holiday cookies of the season. Me? I was on the fence. They were darling Christmas cookies, but I could never decide if I actually enjoyed them as much as my sister.

Almost a year later…
I wanted a cake for my birthday this year. Not just any old cake… something different. And since no one was around to give me cake, I had to bake my own. This recipe caught my eye: Rosemary- Polenta Pumpkin Spice Cake. Since almost a year has passed since the ‘rosemary in a dessert’ incident, I was ready to give it another shot. In a cake? With pumpkin and spices to cover up all of that rosemary flavor? It had to be good.

So I made my pretty, rosemary-infused cake with thick sugar crystals sprinkled on top. I even wrapped it up for myself! (Suggestion… if you do this with a little round cake, place a strip of parchment underneath the ribbon so your cake does not impart any oil onto your ribbon.) Live and learn.

This cake puffed up really tall in the oven, announcing itself to be a proud, celebratory treat. It then settled a bit and a crack was visible on top. I thought the crack added a little character to my non-frosted cake.

I enjoyed this cake plain, but you certainly could whip up some cinnamon-tainted, freshly whipped cream to accompany your slices.

Eat only the rosemary that’s inside the cake. Don’t eat the backyard plant placed on top. It’s just there for decoration. The polenta provides a subtle crunch throughout the cake, and the top of the cake turns out to be sweet and crusty from the addition of raw sugar.

This cake has olive oil in it. I’ve never made a cake with olive oil in it before, but I can tell you that I believe that it made this cake extra moist. It wasn’t dry in the least.

The rosemary? It was great. Really. No kidding. I have to admit that the recipe called for 1/4 cup finely chopped rosemary and I probably only included about 3 Tablespoons instead. I just couldn’t bring myself to include that last Tablespoon for fear of turning this into a plant-tasting birthday cake. If I made it again I’d include the whole 1/4 cup. Ironically, I was actually wishing for a little more rosemary flavor. My husband… he’s a lost cause with the whole ‘rosemary dessert’ thing. I think if I hadn’t told him that it has rosemary in it everything would have been fine and he’d have gobbled it up no problem- but he was wary.

Having a backyard full of rosemary, my husband is all too familiar with the stuff- the sight, the scent, the flavor. He’s onto me. Next time… the rosemary will have to be my little secret… except that those visible little green things might be tough to hide.

This recipe can be found here:  Rosemary- Polenta Spice Cake

41 Responses to “Rosemary- Polenta Pumpkin Spice Cake”

  1. postedNov 7, 2008 11:25 AM
    Nina Timm

    Good for you – making a cake for yourself if no one else wants to….A very interesting combination though!

  2. postedNov 7, 2008 1:08 PM
    Lori

    Your pictures are so beautiful. I love the red ribbon around it. It looks and sounds tasty to me!

  3. postedNov 7, 2008 1:40 PM
    Veronica

    Absolutely beautiful picture with the ribbon! I think that combination sounds fabulous…I love Rosemary.

  4. postedNov 7, 2008 1:44 PM
    mikky

    looks so beautiful… :)

  5. postedNov 7, 2008 2:58 PM
    Stacey Snacks

    I love polenta as the base for a cake. Very Italian, and with the addition of rosemary…..beautiful!

  6. postedNov 7, 2008 3:00 PM
    Jon

    I love pumpkin bread, cake, muffins, pies, everything.

    I’d eat pumpkins like apples if it were socially exceptable.

  7. postedNov 7, 2008 3:35 PM
    Robin Sue

    Love the red ribbon. The cake looks great and I have never had polenta in cake before and I think the rosemary is great. Sometimes we have to make the things we like right!

  8. postedNov 7, 2008 3:37 PM
    Rosie

    Beautiful photos and what a divine cake.

    Rosie x

  9. postedNov 7, 2008 4:06 PM
    Manggy

    To be honest I’m still a little afraid to try a herb-y dessert. Maybe with baby steps, like cake– can’t go wrong :) The crack on top does add lots of character!

  10. postedNov 7, 2008 4:08 PM
    MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Divine! The ribbon is gorgeous!
    I’ve baked several polenta cakes and loved each one. Just think how healthy the olive oil is over butter in this!
    Good luck with rosemary trickery!

  11. postedNov 7, 2008 4:17 PM
    HoneyB

    We just need to keep certain information privy to ourselves and not let those husbands of ours know everything. ;) When it involves what we are cooking anyway! :)

  12. postedNov 7, 2008 5:21 PM
    Laurie

    When I saw the title of this on my reader I couldn’t wait to come and see this cake!! It’s definitely all that I expected and more! Your presentation with the red bow is gorgeous too.. :)

  13. postedNov 7, 2008 6:17 PM
    alexandra's kitchen

    stunning! this is so my kind of recipe. Is this what you were referring to last week? I cannot wait to try this.

  14. postedNov 7, 2008 6:41 PM
    Judy@nofearentertaining

    That cake looks delicious!!! I am adding that to my must try list!!!

  15. postedNov 7, 2008 7:20 PM
    Cakebrain

    I love the aroma of rosemary and have a huge bush growing out in my backyard! This cake looks so moist and comforting! I think the bow in the picture and the sugar crystals make the cake gorgeous!
    Happy belated birthday! I’m a November baby too!

  16. postedNov 7, 2008 7:23 PM
    lisaiscooking

    Looks delicious! I have lots of rosemary in my yard too, and this looks like a great use for it.

  17. postedNov 7, 2008 7:38 PM
    Mike of Mike's Table

    I was swayed to the rosemary in dessert camp recently so I’m all in on this one! It sounds absolutely delicious

  18. postedNov 7, 2008 9:10 PM
    Emily

    I have a zuchini cake recipe from a friend in Italy that has Olive Oil in it . . . I was skeptical about making it but now it is a favorite! I love the sound of your cake!

  19. postedNov 7, 2008 9:13 PM
    Peter M

    Cool, I like savory herbs making guest appearances in sweets…that’s a talent!

  20. postedNov 7, 2008 9:42 PM
    Dawn

    Gorgeous photo! And yes, I agree that olive oil in a cake is good. I had tasted an orange & olive oil cake that was so good. I would love to try this.

  21. postedNov 7, 2008 11:35 PM
    Heather

    rosemary confuses me sometimes, too. i put it with peaches a lot, which i always like. or any stone fruit. it sounds beautiful with the pumpkin! i’ve never put polenta in a cake – i’ll bet it’s amazing!! i do love polenta :)

  22. postedNov 8, 2008 12:24 AM
    Mansi

    WHOA!! you have a winning combination of flavors working up there girl! I’ve never made a cake with polenta, but you are really tempting me to try!

    btw, it’d be great if you could send this cake in for my vegetarian thanksgiving recipe event! it sure is a rocking recipe!!

  23. postedNov 8, 2008 1:00 AM
    Rhyleysgranny

    Looks and sounds just lovely. I have recently made a rosemary cake. the rosemary put me off for ages. It shouldn’t have. It works really well. Great tip about the grease proof paper under the ribbon.

  24. postedNov 8, 2008 1:43 AM
    Meg

    The texture and flavor of this cake sound amazing!

  25. postedNov 8, 2008 8:16 AM
    noble pig

    Okay I am also an obsessed rosemary user, sweet and savory. I think people who associate rosemary with cleaners and facial products just don’t get it in their food. I however think it is awesome. Both the cookies and the cake look and sound delicious.

  26. postedNov 8, 2008 5:49 PM
    We Are Never Full

    what a wonderful recipe. i totally HEART any cake that uses olive oil. the addition of cornmeal/polenta is perfect for texture (i’d imagine).

  27. postedNov 8, 2008 6:25 PM
    CookiePie

    What a gorgeous cake!!! I love rosemary in desserts – and I bet it was amazing paired with pumpkin. Hope your birthday was super-fun!!

  28. postedNov 8, 2008 6:31 PM
    joanna

    i like this cake. it sounds interesting, but that’s the fun par about it. it’s no fun when you bake something and know exactly how it’ll turn out… unless its your favorite dessert of cours

  29. postedNov 8, 2008 6:43 PM
    Karen

    Sounds delicious. I have a favorite recipe for lemon-rosemary tea bread. Rosemary can be a strong flavor to those who aren’t inclined toward strong flavors, so a little bit goes a long way.

  30. postedNov 8, 2008 7:13 PM
    Adam

    Wow, good for you for using backyard plants in cakes… and being successful :) Rosemary is wicked strong, but you seemed to handle it nicely with balance. You have a creative and steady hand, my dear :)

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  32. postedNov 8, 2008 7:56 PM
    Grace

    so…have you ever actually eaten the raw backyard rosemary? just curious.
    and i feel that cinnamon whipped cream would make this irresistible. :)

  33. postedNov 8, 2008 11:03 PM
    Debbie

    I’ve made cakes using olive oil before and it works great. I had made a delicious Italian blueberry one. I’ve already made pumpkin pie recently and pumpkin bars. Think I will try this since it is different. Can you use dried rosemary?

  34. postedNov 9, 2008 2:28 AM
    Proud Italian Cook

    I was thinking when I saw this, what a great gift for someone. All the ingredients sound so perfect together and the ribbon is beautiful! Good tip on the parchment underneath!

  35. postedNov 9, 2008 2:35 AM
    That Girl

    I’m still on the fence regarding rosemary in desserts!

  36. postedNov 9, 2008 3:34 AM
    Tegan

    way cool recipes!! very much appreciated :)

  37. postedNov 9, 2008 5:11 AM
    Teresa Cordero Cordell

    Rosemary in a cake? Who would’ve thought to use it? Fantastic idea. You go girl. I was targeted by Gloria with a “Six Randon Things About Me” meme, and now I’m passing it on to you. :)

  38. postedNov 10, 2008 4:12 AM
    Bunny

    This is so pretty! Your pictures are great.

  39. postedNov 10, 2008 1:37 PM
    Aggie

    Wow, looks great. I’ve been hearing about olive oil cakes, but have never tried. This one sounds unbelievable with the rosemary and polenta!!

  40. postedNov 10, 2008 9:23 PM
    Snooky doodle

    wow such strong flavours I would have never dreamt of using rosemary in a cake.Looks so nice !!!

  41. postedNov 15, 2008 1:57 AM
    Susan from Food Blogga

    I made a rosemary and olive oil cake last year and have never looked back. I love this recipe. Truly. Polenta, pumpkin, and rosemary all in one cake? Bring it on!

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