I will admit when I first thumbed through Baking: From My Home to Yours, the recipe for Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake did not jump out at me. I don’t usually make “grown-up” cakes with dried fruit–much to my husband’s dismay. (He’s the real epicure in our marriage.)
I also don’t love figs. I mean, I like Fig Newtons and I think fresh figs are gorgeous to look at. But, they aren’t my first choice.
My father-in-law was in town last week and he, like my husband, has more grown-up taste buds. I knew this would be the perfect cake to make while he and my husband were around.
I didn’t have the correct pan on hand and I was afraid the cake would leak out of my regular tart pan, so I decided to use my ceramic tart dish. Because I didn’t want my tart dish to overflow, I also made a little 4″ polenta cake with dried apricots in a square dish just for me.
Polenta and Ricotta Fig Cake
from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal (not instant!)
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*
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
2 large eggs
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. 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.
If your figs are the least bit hard, put them in a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are larger than a bite-size, 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. (Oh, wait–I didn’t read this part. Oh, well…I scattered my figs and apricots on top.)
Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary.
Dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
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. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.
I, for one, loved the sweetness of this cake and the pools of butter on top. It was truly delicious. I didn’t even serve them with whipped cream.
Verdict? Um, yeah. I need a swift kick in the pants. This cake defied all my (low) expectations and I think that I will be making this again and again. We all loved it. (Except my kids, naturally.)
I was nice and shared my apricot cake with everyone. (Next time, I am going to make several small apricot cakes and hide them away just for me.)
Up next week–Peanut Butter Torte (Mmm…I love peanut butter.)