Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD: Polenta & Ricotta Fig Cake

This is the cake that almost didn't happen. In fact, if it required multiple bake - cool - bake - roll steps, It probably would NOT have have happened.

Between the nephews birthday this weekend, The cheesecake pops, and life in general, I've been pretty busy this last week. But I picked up the ingredients Saturday with the goal of cooking this on Monday (nothing like the last minute). Then of course, I find out that an acquaintance's mother passed away, and we made plans to go to the wake. My Monday was quickly slipping away.

Coming home from the funeral parlor around 9pm, I pick up the cookbook to read through it, in hopes that its an easy one. It is. And aside from the 45 minutes to bake, it didn't even look too time consuming. Plus, I'd specifically bought figs for this recipe, and it'd be a shame for them to go unused.

Assembly was pretty easy, though in hindsight I should have chopped the figs even smaller. While they were tasty, the big pieces could be a little overwhelming. With 3/4 a cup of honey to measure out, I was glad to put my 'trick' to use, which was to liberally spray the measuring cup with non-stick spray BEFORE measuring the honey. It glides out no problemo.

The cake took closer to 50 minutes to get to the 'golden brown' stage, though I was watching it carefully since my pan was 11 inches instead of the 10 1/2, and I figured it'd have finished quicker.

Whipping up some cream and honey, the husband and I sat down to nibble on some before calling it a night. While the cake is tasty, its not for the cavity prone. All the honey plus the figs made for quite a sweet cake. The recipe says it serves appx 8 pieces, but its so sweet I'd probably limit myself to 1/2 a serving and make it for 16.

In the end, a pretty successful cake. Not quite sure if I'll make it again too soon, but a nice addition to the repertoire.

(PS: in advance of any condolences, it was the mother of my husband's coworker, and a woman I'd never actually met. So well wishes to the deity/ether of your choice are fine, but the loss wasn't particularly tolling to me personally, thank you.)

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow 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
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs

Storing: Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep for about 5 days at room temperature. The cake can be frozen for up to 2 months; defrost in its wrapper.
Center a rack in the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 degrees 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.
If your figs aren’t moist and plump, toss them into a small pan of boiling water, steep for a minute, drain, and pat dry.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, 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.
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, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 45, 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.
Serving: Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature, with a little honey-sweetened whipped cream.


Bumblebutton said...

You had a hectic week, for sure! Kudos to you for making the cake anyway...it tastes terrific with honey and lemon tea!

Jayne said...

Wow - good for you for getting it done at all! I'm impressed.

CB said...

Glad you were able to squeeze in some TWD time. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Anonymous said...

Glad you made room for TWD. :) Your cake looks yummy.

Engineer Baker said...

Very pretty - I'm glad you could squeeze in the time to make it!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Sounds like a busy week so I am glad the cake was quick and easy to put together. We all know you have been hard at work for us Daring Bakers! Thank you.

LyB said...

Well, you are a busy bee! Your cake looks great and I love the trick for getting honey out of the measuring cup, very useful!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I'm impressed that you could fit this in! Well done!

Love the red plate, btw...

Rebecca said...

I love the spraying-the-measuring-cup trick. It works on plastic containers, too. If you spray them before you store something like tomato sauce, they won't stain.

OK, that was my Martha Moment. Scary! ;)