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Lemon Polenta Cake with Winter Fruit Compote

Becky Luigart-Stayner
Yield 12 servings (serving size: 1 cake wedge and about 2 1/2 tablespoons compote)
This rustic cake has a slight crunch from cornmeal, and a mixture of winter fruits balances the tangy lemon flavor. The compote is best served at room temperature or slightly warm.


  • Cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • Compote:
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cups finely chopped, peeled pear (about 2)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Nutrition Information

  • calories 243
  • caloriesfromfat 22 %
  • fat 6 g
  • satfat 1.1 g
  • monofat 3.7 g
  • polyfat 0.7 g
  • protein 3.8 g
  • carbohydrate 44.7 g
  • fiber 1.7 g
  • cholesterol 36 mg
  • iron 1.2 mg
  • sodium 127 mg
  • calcium 35 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Coat paper with cooking spray. Set aside.

  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and rind, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until moist. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

  4. To prepare compote, combine apple juice and raisins in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 4 minutes). Add fresh cranberries to pan; cook 3 minutes or until cranberries pop. Add pear to pan; cook 2 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.

  5. Wine note: With a modestly sweet dessert like this, try a classic Madeira like Blandy's 5-Year-Old Verdelho ($21), which echoes the dried fruit with raisin and apricot flavors while adding its own touch of caramel sweetness. Serve it slightly chilled to contrast the warm cake. And don't worry about finishing the bottle; Madeira lasts almost indefinitely, even after it's been opened. -Jeffery Lindenmuth