Nutty Little Zinger Polenta and Prune Cake

Nutty Little Zinger Polenta and Prune Cake

A nutty little zinger of a Polenta and Prune Cake that’s inspired by Romanian produce and by their coffee cakes.

I apologise unreservedly for the lateness of this post. This recipe is so late being added to the site because I first tried making a vegetarian roasted onion, prune and red wine gravy. Which I was going to add to a dish of polenta fries and roast veg.

Problem was it didn’t work. The roast onion was lovely by itself. And red wine and prunes were made to go together. But with a roasted onion blended in … No. Just no. Well, it was actually okay. But then there was this weird aftertaste … like chutney. I like chutney. But … no. No.

The polenta fries were amazing. I’m going to make them again definitely. So quick too.

Mamaliga (polenta) is a popular and traditional Romanian dish. So that’s why I wanted to have some polenta as part of the dish.

And I wanted to use plums because Romania is the largest producer of plums in the EU. Which obviously made me want to make something with plums.

So where did this cake idea come from?

I did think of making a polenta and plum cake. I was thinking of adapting a Sabrina Ghayour’s recipe for a peach, lime, pistachio and polenta cake, substituting plums for the peaches, some orange and lemon for the lime, almonds for the pistachios, using mascarpone instead of yoghurt and using stem ginger syrup instead of honey. And maybe adding some sherry. And then I thought that’s a lot of substitutions. Which means a lot of food wasted if my changes don’t work out.

So after looking through many lovely Romanian recipes, that were not gluten-free, I went back to the the idea of polenta fries and decided to make some sort of prune gravy.

And then that went badly.

I was so on top of things until that point… I’d actually written up all the remaining recipes. Just had to cook them. And obviously they were all going to work out great. Great.

Oh wait, no. One of the recipes I had made already – so that was scheduled to post. And I totally forgot about that.

But hey, I’d definitely get the Romanian and Slovakian recipes done and posted before. I’d just make a duck in plum sauce with those yummy polenta fries for the Romanian recipe. Simple, right?

You’d think so…

So after wasting a fair amount of food, I went back to the idea that I had dropped – out of fear of wasting food.

Rather than coming up with a recipe myself, I decided to find some cake recipes online that used polenta and prunes, and use that. I found two. Here’s one, and the second one. So I mashed them together.

Is it good? I don’t know yet. It’s baking right now. It smells gorgeous though!

I’ll let you know if it’s good in the photos below.

Things to see & do in Romania

I haven’t been to Romania. I’d love to go. There’s pretty castles, beautiful scenery and a number of unusual things to see.

What is Romania like for coeliacs and the gluten-intolerant?

I found this great but short little post about what dishes are naturally both wheat-free and gluten-free in Romania. And here’s another quick guide to eating gluten-free in Bucharest.

Nutty Little Zinger Polenta and Prune Cake


  • 200g stoned prunes
  • 100ml Earl Grey Tea, boiling hot
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • stem ginger in syrup
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs,
  • 150g Greek style yoghurt
  • 200g polenta
  • 200g whole almonds


  1. Grease and line a deep cake tin. Turn on the oven to 160C.
  2. Blitz the almonds in a blender until they are a crumby consistency. Place in a bowl for later use.
  3. Add the prunes to 100ml of strong boiling hot Earl Grey Tea. Add a tablespoon of the lemon juice and grate in 3 pieces of stem ginger. Leave aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the honey till it's all melted together. Add a pinch of salt. Take off the heat.
  5. Separate the eggs into two deep bowls. Whisk the egg whites till they form white peaks.
  6. Add the yoghurt to the bowl with the egg yolks. Next add in the melted butter and the sugar. Beat until well mixed together.
  7. Add the polenta and almonds to the bowl and beat in well. Next beat in the remaining lemon juice and zest.
  8. Blend the prune mix in the blender until it's well blended.
  9. Fold the egg whites into the polenta cake mix. Add a layer of this batter into the cake tin and then top with a few dollops of the prune mix. Repeat until you have used up both mixtures. Bang the tin on the counter to even out the batter in the tin.
  10. Cook for at least one hour or until the cake is fully cooked through.
  11. Enjoy!

ingredients for polenta and prune cake
Polenta, almonds, Greek-style yoghurt, eggs, butter, honey, caster sugar, prunes, stem ginger in syrup, lemon and a pinch of salt.
two mixtures ready to assemble
Two mixtures, ready to assemble
assembling the cake
Add about one-third of cake batter to the tin and then add dollops of the prune mix, and repeat.
That’s right. This is the mysterious time-travelling cake. Well, Romania’s got Dracula – it’s spoooky!
When assembled, bang the cake on the table or counter to even it out.
Polenta and Prune Cake
So this cake is scrumptious. The photos don’t do it justice.
scrumptious cake
The polenta and almonds give the cake a lovely crumbly texture, while the prune mix is nicely sharp with a smooth texture. Yummy.