Cornmeal Cake with Plums and Rosemary

It’s a great year for plums, and these sweet treasurers pair well with Rosemary and orange in this cornmeal dessert.

I found a beautiful mixed box of plums at a local farm stand recently, and every variety and color was delicious! Sweet, juicy, plump, and tangy! It certainly seems to be a good year for plums, and we’re taking advantage of it.

Inspiring fruit

I’ve been meaning to make a cornmeal cake for a while, and the plums gave me the inspiration.

This recipe uses both fresh and dried plums for textural interest, but you could use all dried or all fresh if you prefer, and swap out the stone fruit.  The picture shown uses fresh plums and dried apricots.

Texture and flavor

The cornmeal adds a slight texture to the cake as well, and lots of flavor. I’ve added rosemary and orange flavors to the mix because they go so well with plums. The cake doesn’t scream any of these, they just blend nicely.

Not an absolutely necessary step, but a wise one: to add extra moisture to this cake, use the Grand Marnier or other orange liquor leftover from soaking your dried fruit. If you use orange juice, when you get to the drizzle over the cake part, turn this into a simple syrup. Just mix it measure for measure with sugar and cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the sugar dissolves. You could also use rum or brandy as your soaking liquid. Again, the cake will still be good without doing this, but you’ll both use up the soaking liquid, and moisten the cake at the same time!

Sunday best

This is quick enough to make any time, and fancy enough for company. As desserts go, it’s not overly sweet, which is why I like it. It is also really pretty to behold! If I were Italian, I’d call this a polenta cake, but I’m a New Englander, and thus it is a cornmeal cake.

Cornmeal Cake with Plums and Rosemary

  • 2/3 cups dried plums or apricots, halved 
  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier liquor or orange juice
  • 1  1/2 sticks of unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2/3 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 4 or 5 ripe plums
  • Turbinado sugar

Place the dried fruit in a bowl with the Grand Marnier and let them plump while you do everything else.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a round springform pan, or false-bottom tart pan. You can also use a regular baking pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. You can also use a hand mixer.

Add the eggs one at a time. Drain the dried fruit and add it to the wet ingredients, along with the vanilla bean paste, and mix to combine. Reserve the liquid from the fruit.

In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, zest, and rosemary. Mix this with a whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients.

On low speed, add the dry mixture to the wet and combine only until mixed.

Turn out into the prepared pan.

Cut the plums into quarters, no need to peel, reserving one half to sit in the center. After placing the center half, arrange the remaining quarters around it like petals on a flour, pushing them into the batter slightly. They will sink into the batter, but still poke their little heads out.

Sprinkle the  fruit with the turbinado or brown sugar and bake for 40 minutes. Test. It may need a few minutes longer depending on your oven. The top should be browned, and a toothpick inserted in the cake will come out clean as long as you don’t spear a plum!

Place the cake on a cooling rack. Measure out a couple of tablespoons of the reserved soaking liquid to make the drizzle. Pierce the cake with a skewer and drizzle the remaining liquor over it while the cake is still warm.

Glaze (below), let cool, remove from the pan, and plate.

Grand Marnier Glaze (also optional, but recommended)

Thin a few tablespoons of confectioner’s 10x sugar with a little of the reserved Grand Marnier soaking liquid to make a glaze that drops evenly from a spoon. Drizzle over the cake after it has cooled a bit but is still a little warm.

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. Honestly I’ve never used cornmeal but this cake looks so pretty! And what a great combination of flavors 😋 I like the touch of herbs in cakes 😉

    1. My mom used to add cornmeal now and then to a cake (probably if she was low on flour!) Served to three teenagers tonight and they all loved it and didn’t leave a crumb!

      1. That’s the great satisfaction 😉😋

      2. They didn’t even ask for whipped cream!

  2. Amazing my friend! Maybe you are a cook and an artist because your foods look beautiful!💗🍽🥃

    1. Thank you so much! My mother-n-law chef extraordinaire always told me to make the food look beautiful because we take the first bite with our eyes!

  3. Yumolicious. Great for Autumn. 🍁🍂🌾

  4. So perfect, and it got really chilly as we were finishing dinner on the porch last night! Have to rethink Covid dining strategy…

  5. I wish I had a piece for breakfast! In the South cornmeal is for cornbread, I haven’t ever had a dessert version and this cake with plums sounds really good!

    1. I have to admit that I would have eaten a piece for breakfast, but the teenagers finished it off!

  6. This looks so delicious! Cornmeal gives such wonderful texture to cakes. I’m also for rosemary in cakes. It adds such nice aroma. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! The cornmeal does give it a beautiful texture, and the rosemary makes it special!

  7. loved reading this 🙂

  8. Oh looks absolutely amazing…

    1. Thank you so much, it was a hit!

  9. Ally Bean says:

    This looks like a delicious recipe. I like all those flavors together.

    Your recipe reminded me of this: when I was a girl people would soak raisins in brandy or bourbon then use the raisins in baking or to put on top of vanilla pudding. The raisins were called Snap Dragons!

    1. Love it! I have definitely heard of soaking the raisins and have done this myself for quick breads, but I’ve never heard the name Snap Dragons! What a funny thing. I wonder where it came from!!!! Makes sense though…PS I bet it is great win top off pudding!

  10. chef mimi says:

    This is fabulous! And it’s so pretty. Love the grand marnier or oj option!

    1. Thank you Mimi! Some folks simply can’t do the alcohol, and the OJ works great.

  11. Julia says:

    The cake is so beautiful! I am sure it tastes as good as it looks! I love corn bread, but I haven’t tried to make a cake with cornmeal.

  12. such an interesting combination! I am definitely going to try this recipe!!

    1. Thank you I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

  13. Yooo! I wanna taste this so bad. Looks yummy 🤤

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you make it sometime soon and satisfy your cravings!

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