Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

A couple of months ago, I bought a tart pan, fully intending to make a tart recipe I'd found (which is now lost on the Internet somewhere, since I neglected to put the link into my Google Notebook). Despite my productive intentions, the pan got some time to mature in the cupboard before I finally pulled it out for this week's recipe (chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker).

[skip to recipe]

assembling the cake

This cake, a polenta cake with ricotta, honey and figs, was a new taste experience for me. It's a very Mediterranean combination of flavors, and it feels very rustic and home-y. It's the kind of cake I would expect to find on a weathered wooden table by a window overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

finished cake slice

Since the only other figs I've eaten have been inside a Newton, it was definitely time to branch out.

I really enjoyed this cake, and Dorie was right when she said that it improves after an overnight rest. The cake was delicious, not too sweet and very moist. The figs added a bit more moisture and a lovely texture to the cake.

side view of cake

The only modification I made to the recipe was to use my 9 1/2" tart pan instead of the 10 1/2" pan. Since I hadn't even used the pan I own, I couldn't really justify buying a new one for this recipe, so I made a few cupcakes with the rest of the batter and stuck a fig in each one :)

making cupcakes

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. (128 g) medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. (71 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. (240 g) ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. (148.5 g) sugar
¾ c. (239 g) honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (4oz or 113g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon (1/2oz or 14g), cut into bits and chilled
2 large eggs

cake ingredients

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.

Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.

Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.
--end of recipe--

cupcake with bite out of it

Yum! I really enjoyed this cake. Even though I was skeptical about the figs at first, they went really well with the flavors and textures of this cake.

Now go and check out the blogroll to see all of the other creations this week!


LyB said...

Your cake looks beautiful, and I love the cupcakes with the one fig in the middle, like a little surprise! I'll have to try mission figs, they look really juicy and delicious!

Marie said...

Wonderful looking cake and your figs look so wonderfully rich and delicious! Well done!

Anonymous said...

Awesome pictures! Great job on the cake.

Cheryl said...

Little cupcakes! What a great idea! I think I may make it in that form next time, as I'm the only one in my family who liked it. That way I could also just make a half batch and not have too many leftovers.

Nice job!

Anonymous said...

Yum! Your cake looks delicious. I love the little cupcakes.

PheMom said...

Your cake looks great! I really like your pictures.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

looks great, and cuppies too!

karen said...

wow, great pictures!

CB said...

I love all your pictures. So beautiful. I could see them in Dorie's book! Great job!

Anonymous said...

Wow! It worked perfectly for you... I used the wrong pan (I know... a goose is smarter than me) and it got a little stuck. But still, it was pretty good.

kim said...

thanks everyone for your comments! :) i'm glad you liked my photos!

Shari said...

Great photos! The fig hiding in the muffin looks delicious.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your cake is beautiful, but the cupcakes are genius, well done!

Anonymous said...

I love the cupcake pic,.....and all the other pictures on your blog!

Digits said...

It look heavenly... what is in the little cup?

kim said...

thanks again everyone :) Digits-- it is greek style yogurt with honey.

Jessy said...

I've been a long time lurker, never actually made anything though, so i thought I'd give this a go!
But i have to ask you, how much butter am i supposed to add.?
I got to that point and had no idea!
Thanks :)

kim said...

hi jessy, thanks for pointing that out! i've added the butter info above... sorry about that! :)

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