Rosemary- Polenta Pumpkin Spice Cake

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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

Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

Meet The Author: Lori Lange

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  • Snooky doodle wrote:

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

  • Aggie wrote:

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

  • Bunny wrote:

    This is so pretty! Your pictures are great.

  • Teresa Cordero Cordell wrote:

    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. 🙂

  • Tegan wrote:

    way cool recipes!! very much appreciated 🙂

  • That Girl wrote:

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

  • Proud Italian Cook wrote:

    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!

  • Debbie wrote:

    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?

  • Grace wrote:

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

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  • Adam wrote:

    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 🙂

  • Karen wrote:

    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.

  • joanna wrote:

    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

  • CookiePie wrote:

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

  • We Are Never Full wrote:

    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).

  • noble pig wrote:

    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.

  • Meg wrote:

    The texture and flavor of this cake sound amazing!

  • Rhyleysgranny wrote:

    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.

  • Mansi wrote:

    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!!

  • Heather wrote:

    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 🙂