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  • Prep-time: / Ready In:
  • Makes one 9-inch cake + 1¼ cups compote

Applesauce and polenta form the base of this naturally sweet and perfectly moist vegan cake, which makes a gorgeous addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday spread. A homemade cherry compote with autumnal spices adds extra sweetness and a hint of tanginess. This recipe is gluten-free if you use gluten-free oat flour. The cake tastes best served warm: If you make it ahead of time, place it on an oven-going platter and warm in a 350°F oven about 20 minutes.

polenta apple cake

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups frozen cherries
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 whole star anise (optional)
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 cup dry polenta
  • 1 cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup oat flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 medium unpeeled apples

Instructions

  1. Make Cherry Compote: In a small saucepan combine cherries, 1 cup of the applesauce, the cinnamon, star anise (if using), cloves, and 1 cup water. mix well. Cook over medium-low about 20 minutes or until thick and syrupy, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; discard star anise. Use a potato masher to crush cherries to a pulp. Cool and chill until ready to serve.
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the remaining 1 cup applesauce, the polenta, plant milk, maple syrup, vinegar, and vanilla. Let stand 20 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the next five ingredients (through baking soda).
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  4. Core apples and slice into ¼-inch-thick wedges. Arrange apple slices in rows or a spiral pattern in the cake pan, working from the center outward to completely cover the base of pan.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the milk mixture, stirring well. Pour batter over apples, spreading evenly.
  6. Bake about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan at least 30 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm with Cherry Compote.

Comments (24)

(4.63 from 8 votes)
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Janet Hawkins1 month ago
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This cake is moist and delicious! Baked it 50 min. I substituted homemade pearsauce for the applesauce, mango for the cherries in the compote, (and left out cinnamon and anise). Substituted 1 t. ground bourbon vanilla beans for the liquid vanilla because it was all I had! Added 2 t. cinnamon and 1/2 t. cardamom to the cake, but might use slightly less cardamom next time though everyone loved it!
I plan to use the basis of the cake and change it up to create different cakes like adding lemon zest and juice to create a lemon cake, etc.

Rosie8 months ago
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I just tried baking this tonight and I can’t wait for the results. Can you please provide the nutrition value?

pamela jense8 months ago
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It looks delicious! I want to trait asap! I love plant based recipes!

Rosie8 months ago
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This looks really delicious, but I don’t see the nutrition value. Can you please provide? Do you recipes have the nutrition value?

Dana Abetti8 months ago
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I just made this and love it, will make it again when I’m ready for my occasional treat. My husband (pure epicurean foodie, not WFPB) even loved it.

Christa Vroegh9 months ago
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I replaced the oat-and almond flour with brown rice flour and it turned out great! Never baked with polenta before, but this is one of my favourites now!

Alexis9 months ago
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Has anyone tried making this in a cast iron skillet? Any tips for oven temperature or other changes?

Judit Hernadi9 months ago
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Can I use pre-cooked polenta? If yes, measurements? Thanks.

JD9 months ago
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Hi Julie. Step 6 says to invert.

Jean M Clark9 months ago
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Clark

julie9 months ago
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This looks wonderful! The apple slices that show on the top – were these put there after pouring the mixture into the pan (recipe doesn’t say, but I like the look) or was the cake inverted after cooking and these are the ones from the bottom? Thank you!

Michelle9 months ago
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Step 5 Pour batter over apples, spreading evenly

Jan S9 months ago
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I’m supposed to avoid corn and corn products. Can this be made with flour (GF or regular) instead of polenta?

Jamie P8 months ago
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Any tips for making this the day before? Fridge over night then bake for 20 minutes or is there something crucial I should do?

Marcelo10 months ago
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Has anyone tried using another nut flour, instead of almonds, to make this cake?

Sandy Handsher11 months ago
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I love this polenta cake and make it all the time. But I leave off the cherry sauce.

Sandy Handsher11 months ago
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I love this cake and make it all the time, but I leave off the cherry sauce.

Alison1 year ago
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Darshana you have done it again. This cake, although quite sweet, is delicious and extremely moist. The recipe made 10 ample sized slices. Serving it warm makes it like a winter pudding. A winner with the family.
Thank you

Betsy1 year ago
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I used homemade applesauce and fresh cherries
This is delicious and not dry at all
Baked for 50 minutes instead of 60

Betsy1 year ago
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I also made my own oat flour I. Food processor

Maureen1 year ago
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Can you use Bob’s Red Mill corn meal or corn flour?

Kim1 year ago
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Just ok. Not as moist as I hoped it would be.

Joy1 year ago
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What is dry polenta? Cornmeal? Cannot make it unless I know the answer.

james1 year ago
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Yes. An example is Bob’s Red Mill yellow corn grits polenta

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Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a vegan chef specializing in whole-food, plant-based cuisine. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of the Forks Over Knives: Flavor! cookbook, recipe author for the book Forks Over Knives Family, and recipe contributor to The New York Times best-selling book The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives magazine, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit darshanaskitchen.com for more.

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