Brandied cherry and marzipan polenta cake

Brandied cherry and marzipan polenta cake

How to Cook Cakes
Peter Cassidy

This cake would make a great alternative Christmas cake for those who love marzipan but don’t like a dense traditional fruit cake. It keeps for up to a week, well wrapped and stored in an airtight container. You need to start this cake a day in advance, to freeze the marzipan and soak the cherries. You will need an 18cm round loose-based cake tin, 5cm deep.


Quantity Ingredient
100g dried cherries
30ml brandy
120g white marzipan
oil or butter, to grease
120g caster sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
60g fine polenta
50g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon ground mixed spice
3/4 teaspoon baking powder


  1. Put the dried cherries in a small bowl, pour the brandy over them and then enough boiling water from the kettle to almost cover them. Cover tightly with cling film or a lid and leave to soak overnight. Cut the marzipan into 1–2cm squares and freeze overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, using an electric whisk, until pale, light and fluffy.
  4. Break the eggs into a small bowl and add the vanilla. Beat lightly with a fork until the eggs are broken up. Gradually add the egg in several additions to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the polenta, flour, spice and baking powder, adding any polenta left in the sieve.
  6. Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture using a large metal spoon or a spatula, taking care not to over-mix. Drain any liquid from the cherries. Stir three quarters of the cherries and three quarters of the frozen marzipan into the cake mixture, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth the top with a spatula.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cherries and marzipan over the top of the cake and push them down slightly with your finger.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until well risen, golden and spongy to the touch. Cover with a piece of foil if the cake browns before the centre is cooked. Test with a skewer, but be aware that the melted marzipan can look like uncooked cake mixture, so check carefully in several places.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave for a few minutes in the tin, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool a little before peeling off the greaseproof paper (the marzipan will stick to the paper once it is cool). Leave to cool completely before slicing to serve.
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