San Marino Bustrengo, a Fresh Apple, Fig and Polenta Cake

Bustrengo is a traditional Italian dessert originating from the humbly named ‘The Most Serene Republic of San Marino’, one of the world’s smallest and oldest republics which, though not technically part of Italy, is surrounded by Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions near the Adriatic Sea making it an easy day trip from Florence and Bologna. It’s a fitting finale for special occasions –  I served it up at my February Supper Club alongside crème fraîche epaisse swirled with limoncello, a garnish of Amalfi lemon zest and a sliver of fresh fig – because of its perfect marriage of fresh apples, figs, golden sultanas, Tuscan honey, Umbrian olive oil, polenta, organic spelt flour, sourdough breadcrumbs, cinnamon and the zest of several lemons and oranges. Despite everything that goes in it,  it’s a light and fresh dessert suitable for all seasons; in fact, it’s both the king and the queen of my serenely dreamy New Year’s feasting menu for friends, served warm and serenaded by lashings of summery limoncello from the super glamorous island of Capri.




A knob of butter
100g polenta
200g organic spelt flour
100g sourdough breadcrumbs
100g unrefined granulated sugar
500ml whole milk
3 large free-range eggs, beaten
100g Italian runny honey
55ml Italian olive oil
100g dried figs, cut into quarters
100g golden sultanas
500g rosy eating apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt
Zest of two large oranges
Zest of two large lemons

How I make it

Heat an oven to 180C.

Lightly butter a large loose-bottomed cake tin.

In a large bowl, mix together the polenta, flour, breadcrumbs and sugar.

In another bowl, gently blend the milk, eggs, honey and olive oil. Add this to the polenta mixture and then add the figs, raisins, apples, cinnamon, salt and the zest of the citrus fruits.

Pour the mixture into the buttered cake tin and bake for around 50 minutes until it is cooked through.


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