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Try a slice of rhubarb cinnamon polenta cake.

Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake

Per Nigel Slater's notes to his recipe, use coarse polenta meal, the one that actually feels a bit gritty. This will create a gritty, sugary crust, which contrasts nicely with the "slithery fruit" which makes him "go back for more." It is best to serve this cake when cool, as it is fragile when warm. But don't forget to serve it together with the reserved juices from the cooked rhubarb.
Course Dessert
Cuisine British
Servings 8 Servings
Author Nigel Slater, "Ripe, A Cook in the Orchard"


  • for the filling:
  • rhubarb - about 1 pound
  • golden baker's sugar - ¼ cup
  • water - 4 tablespoons
  • for the crust:
  • coarse polenta - ¾ cup
  • all-purpose flour - 1-½ cups plus 1 tablespoon
  • baking powder - a teaspoon
  • ground cinnamon - a pinch
  • golden baker's sugar - ¾ cup
  • grated zest of a small orange
  • butter - 10 tablespoons
  • a large egg
  • milk - 2 to 4 tablespoons
  • demerara sugar - a tablespoon


  1. Lightly oil or butter an 8-inch springform cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put a baking sheet in it to get hot. Trim the rhubarb, cut each stem into short pieces, and put them in a baking dish. Scatter over the sugar and water and bake for thirty to forty minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but still retains its shape. Remove the pieces of fruit from the dish and put them in a colander or large sieve to drain. Reserve the rhubarb juice to serve with the cake.
  2. Put the polenta flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and bakers' sugar in a food processor. Add the grated orange zest and the butter, cut into smallish pieces, then blitz for a few seconds until you have something that resembles breadcrumbs. I sometimes prefer to do this by hand, rubbing the butter into the polenta with my fingertips as if I were making pastry. An extraordinarily peaceful thing to do if one has the time. Break the egg into a small bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons of milk, then blend into the crumble mix, either in the food processor or by hand. Take care not to overtax; stop as soon as the dry ingredients and liquid have come together to form a soft, slightly sticky dough. If it isn't a little sticky, then adda a touch more milk.
  3. Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the cake pan, pushing it ¾ inch up the sides with a floured spoon. Make sure there are no holes or large cracks. Place the drained rhubarb on top, leaving a small rim around the edge. Crumble lumps of the remaining polenta mixture over the fruit with your fingertips, and don't worry if the rhubarb isn't all covered. Scatter over the demerara sugar.
  4. Place on the hot baking sheet and bake for forty-five to fifty minutes, then cool a little before attempting to remove from the pan. Serve in slices with the reserved rhubarb juice.