Rosemary Orange Polenta Cake: Day 2 Irene’s Beans

So glad everyone liked the donuts! Thank you for all your comments and tweets! The second installment is a delicious coffee cake, that takes no special ingredients and only minutes to get into the oven. Then once in the oven it fills the kitchen with a beautiful aroma of orange and rosemary.
For a little added texture I used a coarse cornmeal. This renders a hearty crunch to the crumb of the cake, and the sugar/rosemary topping adds a sweet crunch to the top. It might seem a bit rustic for some, but I like to sink my teeth into a good coffee cake, and the balanced flavors gives it some grace.
I used fresh rosemary from my window box, but dried would work fine here too. Rather than add rosemary into the batter, I left it for the topping, which infused the cake with the aromatic without overpowering it- allowing the zesty orange to shine through.
The coffee pairing for this (sounds like a wine pairing, doesn’t it?) is Irene’s Barundi Yandaro. It’s a medium bodied roast that Irene describes as having chocolate notes with spice, I sensed it as an earthier robust with spice and some sweet high notes. These beans come from East Africa where the coffee industry is emerging and taking itself very seriously. You can count on quality beans and a rich robust flavor.
The rosemary is a nice compliment to this coffee and the orange zest in the cake gives the sprightly lift it needs to highlight the top notes.
And for the record- if all this nuancing of flavors has you holding your head- forget about it! Enjoy the coffee, enjoy the cake- and have another slice on me.
Rosemary Orange Polenta Coffee Cake
10-12 slices
.5 c neutral olive oil
2 large eggs, room temp
1c sugar
zest of one orange and it’s juice
1.5c all purpose flour
.25 c coarse cornmeal
2t baking powder
1t salt
2T rosemary
4T sugar
mini pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350˚ and prepare either an 8″ cake pan or 4″ wide loaf pan. Grease pan with oil and line with parchment paper (I used a paper bag) and grease that too.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, zest, cornmeal, bp and salt. Stir thoroughly.
In separate bowl whisk together olive oil, eggs, sugar and orange juice.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry and gently but thoroughly mix batter.
Spoon into the prepared pan and distribute evenly.
On cutting board combine the sugar and rosemary. Mince the rosemary with the sugar. This is why the fresh is so lovely, it will impart some of it’s oils and aromas directly into the sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the cake.
Bake in the center of your oven for approx 40 mins until the center of the cake springs back to the touch or a tester comes out dry.
Cool for 5 mins then gently, so as not to mess the sugar topping, remove the cake and cool on rack until ready to serve.
When I stored my leftover cake I simply wrapped foil around the sides, leaving the top exposed. The cake may stale a little overnight, which is fine for a coffee cake, but more importantly, it preserves the crunch of the topping, which is definitely the best part.


  1. This is beautiful. Rosemary and orange sound like they would be perfect partners.

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  3. barb scott says:

    I love this cake. And the topping I could eat it with a spoon if I could. I use Sugar in the Raw for the topping. Amazing. Had to bake it about 8 minutes longer,otherwise it came out perfect.

  4. I love love love the orange rosemary polenta cake. Did I say Love