Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Tuesdays with Dorie-Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
I can see myself sitting in a cafe in France or Italy, sipping an espresso or a strong cup of tea and having a small piece of this honey and fig cake as a mid-afternoon dessert. The dried Mission figs coated with crushed fresh thyme leaves was a pleasant surprise flavor and balanced the sweetness of the dessert, whereas the polenta gives the cake some texture. A whipped topping blend of sour cream and heavy cream counterbalances some of the sweetness of the honey and sugar.
It's nice to have some freedom with a recipe, but because this is my first post as a member of Tuesdays with Dorie, I decided not to fool with the recipe too much. As a member of Tuesdays with Dorie, I am required to have the book, Baking From My Home to Yours and to be able to post the chosen recipe at least twice a month and on a Tuesday. Caitlin of Engineer Baker chose Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake for this week's challenge.
I had no luck finding a 10 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, so bought an 11-inch quiche pan thinking the 1/2-inch difference wouldn't really matter. The cake went together very well and looked beautiful while it was baking. I loved the idea of the lemon zest, honey, polenta and dried figs;it had such a rustic sound to it. Instead of using 16 large dried Mission figs, I used twice the amount of dried figlets. The figlets were very moist and supple, so didn't need the plumping up that Dorie suggested may be needed for figs that are somewhat hard.
For those of you who haven't bought Dorie's book, Baking From My Home to Yours, here is the recipe.
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed or 32 figlets which wouldn'd need cutting in half.
1 cup medium-grain polenta or cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup tepid water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey, a full-flavor honey such as chestnut, pine or buckwheat for real honey lovers.
1 stick(8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon, cut into bits and chilled
2 large eggs
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter a 10 1/2-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. I followed Dorie's suggestion of tossing the figs with a pinch of crushed fresh thyme leaves to add a Mediterranean touch to the cake.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or 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 will 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 butter bits.
Bake for 35-40 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.
Serves 8. Cake can be wrapped in plastic and will keep for five days at room temperature or can be frozen up to 2 months.
Gadget by The Blog Doctor.