Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 27th April 2012

For me, the best part of baking is the magnificent and inviting aroma lingering throughout the house. And it’s not just the amazing aroma that escapes from the oven when baking a cake like this Polenta Cake but it’s also the multitude of scents that come from preparing the ingredients too – freshly grated lemon or orange zest, the sweet smell of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, toasted nuts, and the bold smell of fresh strawberries.

A photo of Italian Almond Cake with cornmeal.

I think I feel this way because growing up, my home was always filled with a myriad of smells, freshly baked bread, homemade tomato sauce simmering on the stove perfumed with freshly picked basil, curing prosciutto, baked cannelloni, or the fruity smells of young wine escaping from the barrels housed in the wine cellar. Clearly, for me, it provides a feeling of comfort and most of all, love.

A photo taken looking down on an Italian Coffee Cake, Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Cream and Balsamic Strawberries.

Wanting to share that feeling is probably why I enjoy entertaining as much as I do. As a child I watched my parents welcome people into our home on a regular basis, in fact, the house was always full. And it wasn’t just family and friends, a serviceman could be coming to fix the dryer and my parents would invite him to join us for lunch consisting of the typical Italian fare, freshly cut Italian meats, cheese, fresh bread and of course, a glass of wine. There was always room at the table.

A photo of Italian Cornmeal Cake with Mascarpone Cream Topping and fresh strawberries.

Although they didn’t have a lot of money they were always generous and shared from the heart. Looking back I don’t know how they did it. They immigrated to Canada with seven children and shortly after arriving we welcomed my sister into the world. My mother didn’t start working until years later. And even then, caring for eight children, I’m sure, was no easy feat.

A photo of a slice of Italian Cake topped with Mascarpone Cream and Balsamic Strawberries.

There’s an Italian proverb, “entri come amici, vada come familgia”, translated it means, “enter as friends, leave as family”. My parents had the exceptional ability for making everyone feel like part of our family.

A photo of Polenta Cake decorated with whipped Mascarpone Cream and Balsamic and Brown Sugar Strawberries.

The smell of freshly baked Polenta Cake is reminiscent of the aromas from my mother’s kitchen. I recall the wonderful scent of citrus and the familiar scent of toasted almonds and hazelnuts.

A photo of a bowl of Balsamic Strawberries with a slice of Italian Cornmeal Cake set in behind.

This buttery, nutty Cornmeal-Almond Cake is the type of cake I enjoyed growing up; I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

A photo of an Italian Cake made with cornmeal and ground almonds.

Amor Polenta or Dolce di Varese

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Dolci alla Frutta, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Fruit Desserts, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Torte

Comments (18)

18 Responses to “Cornmeal-Almond Cake {Polenta Cake} with Mascarpone Cream and Berries”

  1. Steph@stephsbitebybite Says:

    Wow!! What a great cake!! And all of these ah-mazing flavors!!

  2. Maria Says:

    Beautiful cake!

  3. Choc Chip Uru Says:

    I love that this is a childhood memory raiser for you – I would like to make memories with this cake since it looks so nice :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  4. cookingrookie Says:

    Mascarpone and berries = Yum!

  5. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen Says:

    What an amazing mom you have to have raised 8 children and be a good baker and hostess on top of that!

  6. Lauren at Keep It Sweet Says:

    While the entire cake looks wonderful I really love the sound of the Mascarpone cream! I didn’t know you had such a big family growing up, how nice and how wonderful that your home was so warm and inviting to everyone!

  7. Lisa @ Sweet 2 Eat Baking Says:

    Fantastic cake. Looks so beautiful and inviting. It must have been wonderful growing up in your family. It’s always nice to be surrounded by people and what great people to always welcome everyone into their lives like that. We need more people like that today. I don’t know how your mum managed to find the time but what a fantastic woman!

    Came from FoodBuzz so have left you some Buzz-love on this post on FoodBuzz. :)

    -Lisa.

  8. Claudia Says:

    This definitely would make your guests “family.” What a gorgeous cake and I am sure it will be coming to my table this spring. Growing up Italian – I noted the same things – the way there seemed to be bounty at the table when there was little money.

  9. Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake Says:

    This cake sounds amazing! The cornmeal cake base would be delicious, but the topping makes it even better…balsamic and strawberries are wonderful together! I would love a large slice :)!

  10. lyly Says:

    Grace, I like almond cake plus Mascarpon and berries. Beautiful cake.

  11. LP @dishclips Says:

    This looks like a great dessert to serve at tea parties and brunch get togethers. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Grace Says:

    Thanks Lyly, I love cakes like this one.

  13. Grace Says:

    Thank you so much Lisa! I agree with you Lisa, I find today everyone is so busy they don’t have the time to social.

  14. Grace Says:

    I thought you knew I grew up in a huge family Lauren. Believe it or not I have 21 nieces and nephews (my oldest niece, Daniela, was born before my parents had my sister, Nadia – we tease my sister with the fact that she was an aunt at conception). And I have 14 great nieces and nephews and another on the way, my niece, Natalie, is expecting. I love it!

  15. Jacqueline (CakeBoule) Says:

    I love Polenta cake and I just did one recently on my blog but this one looks great adorned with strawberries and I am so excited to find another recipe / flavour. I don’t know if you saw but I made an adaption of you oreo cheesecakes and my Jammie Dodger cheesecakes were a great hit so thanks for the inspiration.

  16. Grace Says:

    Jacqueline I did see your Jammie Dodger Cheesecakes and I was drooling all over my computer screen. I’ve never seen these cookies before but they look similar to our Peak Freans Fruit Cream. I just happen to devour Fruit Creams whenever I treat myself because they are quite pricey too. And I hope you don’t mind but I am going to make a spin off your adaptation using Fruit Creams. We could go back and forth on these and have some fun. Sounds like a good challenge post with a bunch of us making a take off the original oreo. By the way I’ve followed you on Pinterest, let me know if you want me to add you to any of my community boards.

  17. Honey What's Cooking Says:

    this cake is gorgeous.. i’ve never baked with cornmeal.. love the pictures. found you via miryam’s blog.

  18. 7 Sweet Polenta Cake Recipes Says:

    […] Recipe & photo credit to gracessweetlife.com […]

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