Martha’s Grape & Olive Oil Cake

Posted on February 18, 2011


I’m a huge Martha Stewart fan. I think the woman is amazing and the business empire she has created is inspirational. I appreciate that she has a huge team of talented people behind the Martha brand, but I’m sold! In the UK, Martha isn’t really a household name so if you’ve not come across her before, take a look at, for every bit of home expertise you’ll ever need.

I subscribe to one of her publications from the US called MS Living and found this intriguing recipe for grape and olive oil cake. I’ve no idea what makes one recipe more interesting than another. I’ve got so many cookbooks and magazines and my selection criteria for choosing the recipes that will be lifted from page to pan is somewhat of a mystery to me. On this occasion, I think it was probably the combination of ingredients that I’ve never thought about before in a cake. The use of olive oil and in the inclusion of polenta is something new for me.

The recipe is very easy, though being a US recipe the measurements are in cups. I have a set of US measuring cups so I followed preciously, but if you haven’t, I’ve done my best to convert to grams.

I was impressed with the taste of the baked result. The cake is moist and the lemon zest comes through clearly. The polenta adds a really interesting texture and the grapes burst through with their sweet juice. I think this would be equally as nice without the fruit too as an alternative and elegant take on madeira cake.

I made a slight error, by adding the grapes all at once pre-cooking. If you do this, they’ll sink to the bottom affecting the presentation of the dish (see pictures!). You need to add half pre-baking and then the other half mid-way through the baking time. I remedied this by adding a few spare green grapes to the top as I’d eaten all the red ones!

You can either bake this in a square cake tin (suggest 8inch square) or I’ve used a brownie pan (from Lakeland), which makes cute little individual squares so you don’t have to slice them. Either way, this recipe will make between 9-12 squares, depending on how big you cut them!

Grape & Olive Oil Cake

1/2 cup olive oil (120ml), 1 cup plain flour (120g), 1/2 cup ground almonds (75g), 1/4 cup polenta (40g), 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, salt, 2 large eggs, 2/3 cup sugar (130g), 2 tsps lemon zest, 2/3 cup milk (160ml), 2 cups red seedless grapes (300g)

Preheat oven to 180c/GM4. Grease pan and set aside. Whisk butter, egg, sugar and zest together until pale and smooth. Mix flour, polenta, pinch of salt and baking powder together. Gradually add and mix the dry ingredients with butter mixture alternating with milk to create a smooth batter. Spoon mixture into your pan and top with 1/2 of your grapes. Place in the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Mid-way through baking, press the remaining grapes into the top of the part-baked cake. Remove and leave to cool before slicing and serving.

Hope you enjoy,

Helen x