Romanian Malai polenta cheesecake

A simple, baked cake that's delicious eaten straight from the oven with a dollop of sour cream

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The Monday Morning Cooking Club say: “Growing up, Debbie didn’t know many people with Romanian heritage. It was only as an adult travelling in Israel and Romania that she realised this crisp, golden cheesecake with polenta (her mother’s regular Friday night dessert) was actually a traditional dish. Also called alivanca, it can be made in many different ways; some are flat, some are high, some are flavoured with honey rather than sugar.”

Recipe adapted from Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Now for Something Sweet, Harper Collins


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 23 x 13 cm loaf tin generously with butter or oil and leave unlined as this will give the malai a lovely crisp edge.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until thick and pale. With the mixer on low, pour in the oil and beat until combined. Add the cheese and beat well, then add the polenta, zest and salt. Beat until well combined. Don’t be concerned if you can still see lumps of cheese.
  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before turning on to a rack.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

3 eggs

230g caster sugar

60ml oil

500g  pressed cottage cheese, chopped (or Quark or ricotta)

125g polenta 

Finely grated zest of ½  orange or lemon

¼ tsp salt 

Sour cream, to serve

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