Kelly Miller’s Polenta Cake with Berry Sauce [RECIPE]

Author Kelly Miller loves baking up this family favorite, Polenta Cake with Berry Sauce. (Photo courtesy Kelly Miller)

Many years ago, Kelly Miller, author of Accusing Mr. Darcy, attended a family gathering where her husband’s cousin Linda served them Polenta Cake with Berry Sauce. Upon Kelly’s request, Linda generously wrote out the recipe for her, and to this day, it remains one of the novelist’s all-time favorite desserts.

My sweet tooth must have been inherited from my father, who still maintains a couple of fully-stocked “candy drawers” at his house. He was never much of a baker, but once when I was a child, he made chocolate chip cookies and passed on an important baking tip: “Add a bit more sugar.” I often do so, but I steer away from using an exorbitant amount of butter. I used to bake often, and I almost always tweaked recipes to suit my own tastes, and this one is no exception.

Kelly Miller, author of ‘Accusing Mr. Darcy’

PREP TIME: 30 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour


  • 11 tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal

Berry Sauce

  • 3 to 4 cups fresh or frozen berries
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons brandy, rum, or wine
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (or less if you prefer)


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9- x 2-inch round cake pan.
  2. Cream together butter, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low until combined. Without turning off the mixer, add eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
  3. With the mixer on low, add the flour and cornmeal slowly so they don’t clump and mix until just combined. Batter will be thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Kelly says it took her 15 minutes more.) Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before transferring it to a cake plate.
  4. Spoon berry sauce over cake and let the sauce soak into the cake for a few minutes to soften it, akin to the strawberry sauce on a strawberry shortcake; serve.

Berry Sauce

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat berries with alcohol (your choice of brandy, rum, or wine) over low heat until sugar is melted, stirring occasionally.

KELLY’S TIP: According to your preference, you might prefer this cake with plain fresh berries and whipped cream, skipping the sauce entirely; or you might make the sauce and serve it on the side. However you prepare it, I hope you enjoy it!

YIELD: 1 9-inch cake, about 8 servings

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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