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Upside-down Strawberry-Rhubarb Polenta Cake

Makes 1 9-inch cake.


    This strawberry-rhubarb cake is proof that gluten-free baking is much more forgiving than people give it credit for. Between my recipe testers and me, we’ve tried this cake a dozen different ways, including using (accidentally) a precooked roll of polenta instead of the dried sack. Somehow that cake still turned out delicious (though presumably involved a LOT of whisking . . .). To clarify, you are looking for medium-ground cornmeal, which is most frequently called polenta (avoid the “instant” kind). I love the combination of the gritty cornmeal with rich, nutty almond flour, but you can use a finer cornmeal, or substitute buckwheat, white rice, or oat flour for the almond flour. The cake is not too sweet, and the combination of strawberry and rhubarb adds a tart finish. Though I discourage eating cake on an empty stomach, my friend aptly called it an “everyday snacking cake.”


    CHANGE OF SEASON: Sub fresh blueberries, raspberries, thinly sliced peaches (2 small), thinly sliced Meyer lemons, or blood oranges for the strawberry-rhubarb combination.


    Upside-down Strawberry-Rhubarb Polenta Cake


      • 1 pint fresh strawberries, quartered (about 2 cups)
      • ½ rhubarb stalk (about 1 ounce), thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
      • ⅓ cup shelled pistachios, finely chopped, divided
      • 1 cup polenta
      • 1 cup almond flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • ½ teaspoon sea salt
      • 3 large eggs
      • ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • Full-fat plain yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche (optional)



      Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round or square cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease it with oil.


      Layer the strawberries, rhubarb, and half the pistachios (in that order) evenly in the prepared pan.


      In a medium bowl, whisk together the polenta, almond flour, baking powder, and salt until there are no lumps.


      In a second medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, honey, vanilla, and oil until smooth and all the sweetener is incorporated.


      Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined—the batter will be thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan over the fruit and spread it evenly into the corners with a spatula.


      Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, then invert it onto a serving platter. Discard the parchment.


      Cut the cake into slices or squares, garnish with the remaining pistachios, and serve as is or with a dollop of yogurt.



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