Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

All I have to say is - thank goodness I only have to choose once! This week was my turn to pick what our Tuesdays with Dorie group baked, and I had a heck of a time. I had so many criteria: no picture (have to use our imagination), seasonal, not traditional, and easy. Now, okay, so finding polenta and figs wasn't as easy as I originally thought it would be (I already had them on hand...), but the actual assembly was easy, right? This rustically Italian dessert honey cake was definitely not a traditional American dessert, and not traditional Dorie either - no chocolate! Given that the boyfriend wanted us to make chocolate gingerbread, I think I did him one better on the seasonal part too!


Again, this cake came together very easily, and since who the heck has a 10 inch tart pan?!? I used a 9 inch tart pan instead, along with some 4 inch tartlet pans for the overflow. Even with using two tartlet pans, I had them overflow just a little.

It also benefited greatly from a 24 hour rest on the counter, as all honey cakes do. I used an unfiltered honey from a local farmer, but could have used a slightly more assertive honey, as that flavor was overwhelmed by the figs. I didn't dot the top with butter, and I'd suggest lowering the amount of white sugar in this, because it seemed overly sweet to me. My tart and tartlets all baked for ~55 minutes, which is par for the course for me - I tend to have to bake things a bit longer than Dorie suggests.

In the end, I definitely enjoyed my pick (thank goodness), and I hope everyone else (or most everyone else) enjoyed it too! I didn't get the same type of rave reviews from coworkers that I've gotten in previous weeks, but I figure that makes sense - polenta, ricotta, figs, and honey aren't exactly the sorts of ingredients that Wisconsin is used to!

Last Week: Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Next Week: Peanut Butter Torte

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
(From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours)

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs

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.

39 comments:

Lori said...

I definitely enjoyed your pick! I never would have suspected I would love it, but I did. Great job.

Madam Chow said...

I thought this was a great pick. Thank you! PS Recipe is missing the butter, or did I overlook something?
Madam Chow
http://www.mzkitchen.com

LyB said...

I totally enjoyed your pick, I loved that I had to use my imagination and get creative! Your cake looks beautiful and golden, delicious!

April said...

Your cake looks great! Thanks for choosing a recipe that I would have never tried before now!

Dianne's Dishes said...

It looks great! I had to sit out this week, but I'm enjoying seeing what everyone else created. :)

MrsBethorama said...

I was a bit hesitant at first but I loved the cake. Great pick :)

Mary Ann said...

Glad you enjoyed your pick. I was wondering how you chose it. Looks tasty!

rainbowbrown said...

Your cake looks great. I'm largely happy with your pick. Thanks!

Erin said...

Your cake looks really good! I didn't get to make this week's recipe, but I kind of wish I did :) It's so interesting to see what this unusual combination of flavors created!

Jayne said...

I am SO glad you picked this cake - I love the differentness of it, not to mention the lemon/honey combo. Wonderful selection. And yours looks great!

smellslikehome said...

Great pick this week Caitlin!! I loved the cake tremendously! Looks like your's turned out beautifully. :)

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Your cake pics are so lovely! Kinda fun to make one that didn't have photos in the book. Thanks!

Rebecca
http://www.ezrapoundcake.com

Bumblebutton said...

Nice pick--so simple to put together. I'm a sucker for a photo, so I wouldn't have made it otherwise. Yours has a gorgeous color! Thanks!

ostwestwind said...

Thank you for picking this recipe. Against all thoughts I was pleased.

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Piggy said...

Thanks for choosing such a great recipe, it's yummy!

chelley325 said...

Thanks for hosting this week Caitlin! My husband claims to hate all things ricotta, but he had three HUGE pieces of this cake and went on about how great it is.

bakingwiththeboys said...

I am going to chime in and say thanks for this pick as well. I didn't get the rave reviews either but I am always happy to try something new. I thought it was good and now I can say I have made it.

lovesweetlove said...

I loved this recipe. Never ever would I have made it on my own, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Cheryl said...

I'm so glad you chose this recipe! It's something I never would have made otherwise, but now I'm thrilled that I did. It was delicious!

Heather said...

I enjoyed it! It was a great pick! I couldn't find figs so I used dried cranberries and it was delicious (though a little too sweet.)

Your cake looks delicious!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

i thought it was a fantastic pick, and it seems that many who thought they wouldn't like it, did in the end!

CB said...

I admit it wasn't my favorite BUT I learned something about myself from this dish (I don't like figs) and you can't ask for more than that right? Thanks for hosting!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Katrina said...

Thanks for the great pick! it was a bit sweet for me, but a nice change of pace from the chocolate.

Julius said...

Thanks for your pick. This is one recipe I'll probably make again and again.

Your cake looks beautiful.


Julius
from Occasional Baker

PheMom said...

Great job on your choice. I enjoyed the challenge. Your cake turned out beautifully!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great pick this week Caitlin! It is great that so many enjoyed it as well. You did a great job on yours, it looks perfect!

Shari said...

I like your criteria: no picture, seasonal, not traditional, and easy. Some year when it's my turn to pick, I'll have to remember this! Thanks for picking one I wouldn't normally have tried!

Liliana said...

Your cakes came out great! I like the golden colour! Next time I will make smaller cakes - there was too much batter for the 10 inch tart pan. Great choice.

annmartina said...

Even though I didn't like MY end results, it was a great and adventurous pick. Who knows. I might think about it and try it again, this time with some changes. So good work thinking outside the tart pan.

Steph said...

What a good pick! You, along with the othe TWD members are inspiring me to try so many of Dorie's recipes!

Kevin said...

This cake sounds really good. The polenta and ricotta combo sounds really interesting. I like using honey as a sweetener.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Well I was certainly a convert, and I will be making this again! Thanks for picking such a simple and versatile cake!

Jenny said...

I would have liked to have tried this cake but not only could I not convince anyone else to even try it if I made it, but I am still sick, so this did not get made. Your tart looks lovely and makes me wish I could have tasted it (which I couldn't right now, even if I had made it.)

Cecilia said...

Caitlin, your pick this week was genius. This recipe is right up there with last week's carrot cake. I loved, loved the cake, so thank you for your decision.

I'm glad that you enjoyed the cake; it looks great!

Jennifer said...

Caitlin - We're so sorry to have missed this week! We just didn't get to it in that little window between Passover and Tuesday. It's exciting to see how the cake turned out for others, though. I think you picked well!

Natalie said...

Your cake looks beautiful! Great choice :)

Oh, and reading through some of the other comments, I think I baked mine too long. And needed to use fresh zest instead of using the dried out of my pantry so I didn't have to make another trip to the store. LOL

Di said...

Your cake looks wonderful! I'm really disappointed that I wasn't able to get the cake made this week. I'm definitely going to have to try it at some point. I enjoyed hearing your thought process for choosing the recipe.

Dolores said...

Well I wasn't even planning on making it (nothing personal... just a lot of sweets crossing my table recently). But I'm glad I did... it was a-MAY-zing. Great choice!

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