So I have to say I was a bit excited to see how this week’s TWD challenge would turn out. The chosen recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours was Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake selected by Caitlin of Engineer Baker. Honestly, I never would have decided to make this on my own. The two main ingredients are not amongst my favorites, especially Ricotta. I have read Baking cover to cover many times and did not remember this recipe so in the past I must have seen the words “Polenta and Ricotta” together and went “Nope, don’t think so!” and quickly turned the page.
I always like it when preconceived notions and automatic negative reactions turn out to be smiles and “well, that wasn’t bad at all”s in the end. Thanks Caitlin for picking out this recipe and making me expand my horizons! I had fun with this one.
I was really pleased with how this cake turned out. The taste was good, although I cut the sugar down a little so it wouldn’t be as sweet (based on comments left by some on the P&Q post). I had a small problem finding figs where I live though. Eventually, I stopped by the Dutch Market just to check one last place and they did have figs, but only Calimyrnas so that’s what I went with. One thing I wasn’t too sure about with this cake was the chilled butter that’s placed on top before baking… because it left little sink holes in the top of the cake when all was said and done. Not sure why this happens or if adding the butter is really even a necessary step. Maybe brushing some on instead of using chilled bits would not cause sink holes?? But I do agree with Dorie about how this cake is better the second day. The honey stands out more.
See you next Tuesday for next week’s selection Peanut Butter Torte. Yeah, baby!
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 8 servings
About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs (stems removed)
1 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup tepid water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey (regular of full flavored such as chestnut, pine or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon, cut into bits and chilled
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack centered in the middle of the oven. Butter 10.5 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom and place on baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat. (I forgot to line the pan but didn’t seem to have any problems from not having it.)
If figs are not moist and plump, boil a small pan of water and let them steep for about a minute. Drain, pat dry. If they are too large, cut them into bite sized pieces. (I had to steep the figs and cut them into very small pieces.)
Whisk all dry ingredients (polenta, flour, baking powder and salt) together in a bowl.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or hand held mixer, beat ricotta and water together on low speed until the mixture is very smooth. Add sugar, honey, lemon zest to the ricotta mixture and beat until light on medium speed. Beat in melted, cooled butter and then add eggs one at a time until the mixture is smooth. Reduce speed to low again and add dry ingredients. Only mix until fully incorporated.
Pour 1/3 of batter into prepared pan and place figs on top. Pour in the rest of the batter to cover the figs and smooth if necessary. Next, dot the top of the batter evenly with the chilled butter bits. (After baking, this chilled butter seems to leave sink holes in the top of the cake for some reason.)
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into center comes out clean. The cake should be a nice honey color and pulling away a little from the sides of the pan. Transfer cake to a cooling rack and remove sides of pan after five minutes.
Cool completely, or cool to warm. Then Enjoy!
Make sure you wrap the cakes in plastic. Ok to keep for up to five days stored at room temperature. Or freeze for up to 2 months, defrosting in the wrapper.
Changes I made:
Used Calimyrna Figs instead of Mission or Kadota
Cut recipe in half and baked in four 4 x 1 inch tart pans
Cut down the sugar around 1/4 of a cup
Used dried lemon zest in place of fresh
*baking between 30 and 35 minutes seems good when using the smaller tart pans. i began checking and re-checking after 20 minutes because i freak out about every little thing.