Make the cake
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Grease an 8-1/2x4-1/2-inch loaf pan with 1/2 Tbs. of the butter.
Sift the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt through a medium-mesh sieve. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 8 Tbs. butter and the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla. With the mixer running on medium speed, very slowly add the egg mixture to the butter a little at a time, until the eggs are completely incorporated. With a spatula, very gently fold in the dry ingredients until just incorporated (don’t overmix).
Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan, smooth the surface, and bake until a skewer grilled polenta cake with cherry-cassis sauce inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a table knife around the edges, remove the cake from the pan, and cool completely.
Make the sauce
Put 4 cups of the cherries in a medium bowl and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the remaining 2 cups cherries, sugar (3 Tbs. for sweet cherries; 5 Tbs. for sour), and cassis until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Add the lemon juice and pepper (if using), and then toss the cherry sauce with the reserved cherries. Add more sugar to taste.
Serve the cake
In a bowl, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the 2 tsp. confectioners’ sugar and mix just to combine. Don’t overwhip. Prepare a medium charcoal or gas grill fire. Cut the pound cake into 3/4-inch slices. Brush each side with the butter. Grill the pound cake until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Put one piece of pound cake on each plate. Top with the cherry sauce and a dollop of the cream and dust with more confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.
nutrition information (per serving):
30, Fat Calories
270, Saturated Fat
7, Monounsaturated Fat
68, Polyunsaturated Fat
Photo: Scott Phillips