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Italian cherry cake

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Italian cherry cake

By Lisa Featherby
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 30 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 12
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Italian cherry cake
Vin santo, polenta and mascarpone... true Italian flavours feature in this lush cake. Make the cake the day before, if desired, but make the frosting and candied cherries on the day of serving.


  • 250 gm semolina (1 1/3 cups)
  • 200 gm polenta
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 330 gm caster sugar (1½ cups)
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400 ml olive oil
  • 125 ml Vin Santo (see note) (½ cup)
Candied cherries
  • 250 gm caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 300 gm cherries, stems attached
Mascarpone frosting
  • 60 gm pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 600 gm mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
  • 80 ml Vin Santo (see note) (1/3 cup)


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 150C. Combine semolina, polenta, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl, stir to combine and set aside.
  • 2
    Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla extract for 5 minutes or until thick and pale. With motor running, gradually add semolina mixture in a slow, steady stream until incorporated. With mixer on high speed, add olive oil and Vin Santo in a steady stream and beat well until incorporated. Pour mixture into a greased and baking paper-lined 27cm-diameter cake pan and bake in centre of oven for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted withdraws clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack to room temperature, then carefully invert onto a serving plate and set aside.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for candied cherries, combine sugar, glucose and ¼ cup water in a heavy-based saucepan, bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar, then brush down sides of pan using a clean, wet pastry brush. Cook for
    8-10 minutes or until light caramel, then dip base of pan in cold water to stop caramel cooking. Working quickly, with one cherry at a time, dip cherry into caramel, coating completely, place onto a baking paper-lined tray and repeat with remaining cherries
    and caramel. (If caramel becomes too thick, gently reheat, stirring continuously, over low heat until caramel melts.) Set cherries aside.
  • 4
    For mascarpone frosting, beat all ingredients using an electric mixer for
    10 seconds or until firm peaks form. Using a spatula, spread frosting evenly over cake. Scatter candied cherries over and serve.


Note Vin Santo is a traditional Tuscan dessert wine made from trebbiano and/or malvasia grapes. If unavailable, substitute with Sauternes, Samos or another sweet white dessert wine.

  • undefined: Lisa Featherby