Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie - Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

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I have to admit, I wasn't very excited about this week's TWD. The recipe was chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker. It didn't sound appetizing or even intriguing, so it was hard to get excited about it. I finally got down to business and made it on Monday.

I modified the recipe fairly heavily. I didn't read it very closely before going to the store, so I neglected to pick up a lemon. I had an orange in the fridge, however, so I used it instead. I don't like figs at all, so I subbed some chunks of fresh purple plums instead -- something I've been wanting to cook with for awhile. When it came time to mix up the cake, I also realized that I was short on honey, so I used a half cup of honey and about a quarter cup of blue agave nectar. The batter tasted just fabulous, and I happily licked the spatula after I popped the cake into the oven.

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Ok. This? This is the reason I joined Tuesdays with Dorie. This cake is amazing! It's been out of the oven for 15 minutes, and I'm already on my second piece! It's so soft, moist and velvety, but with a little crunch here and there. The orange zest is incredibly fragrant. The chunks of plum are tart and fresh. The fluted edges are lightly browned and crispy. I love this cake. And I never would have made it if I hadn't joined TWD. I would have continued to scrunch my nose and flip past this page in the cookbook, and never would have known what I was missing. Hooray for Tuesdays with Dorie! And thank you, Caitlin, for such a great choice!

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Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed [I used 3 fresh red plums, cut in eighths)
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 [I reduced this to 1/2 cup]
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat) [I used 1/3 cup honey and a scant 1/4 cup blue agave nectar]
Grated zest of 1 lemon [I used the zest of 1 orange]
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 panm, 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.

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24 comments:

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Glad you were open to new things and that you enjoyed the cake. Great combo on the plums and orange.

Sarah said...

I think once I finally try this cake I will sub the figs for something else, but your combo sounds delish! Great job!

landa said...

Gorgeous cake!

kim said...

your cake looks great! the fresh plums sound delicious. i would have definitely given this a pass too if it weren't for TWD :)

lovesweetlove said...

Yum, plums and orange zest sounds like a good combo, I may have to make it like this soon.

rainbowbrown said...

What a happy ending. That's so cool.

CB said...

So glad you liked it! Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Julius said...

Polenta and ricotta are not the first things I think of when someone says cake.

I love how your cake looks! :)

Julius
from Occasional Baker

LyB said...

I love when a recipe surprises me like this one! Your cake looks beautiful and delicious!

Jayne said...

Ooh, plums in the cake sounds good. Excellent job - it's so much fun being happily surprised, isn't it?

bakingwiththeboys said...

I had to sub in some agave nectar as well. I thought it worked. I wasn't quite as enamored with the end result as you were but I guess that is why there are so many recipes, variations, etc...

annmartina said...

This cake definitely needs something tart in it. Yours looks great.

Bumblebutton said...

Nice job thinking on your feet--your combo sounds so good. Have to admit, I think I liked the batter better than the end result.

Christine said...

I am not a big fan of figs and substituting orange and plums makes this sound so delicious! I will give this version a try! I will see you on next week's challenge I just joined TWD!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Great job with this one! Your cake looks beautiful!

Shari said...

I like your idea of using plums!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Looks nice and munchy! Good idea to use plums.

Engineer Baker said...

Yay! I'm glad it turned out well for you - it looks beautiful!

Gretchen Noelle said...

How wonderful that you enjoyed it! This is the reason we bake together - to learn and to expand our comfort zone. Your combination sounds delicious and I may try fresh fruit the next time I make this!

Cecilia said...

Your cake looks wonderful! The orange zest sounds like a cool variation, so I might try that for next time.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Fresh plums and orange zest?! What a lush combination! I think this cake takes well to substitution, it's the perfect recipe to have as a stand-by.

Natalie said...

Mmm... that sounds and looks so good! I want to try this one again and the plums sound like they'd be perfect!

Carol said...

Doesn't it feel extra good when you create a success despite ingredient challenges and surprises? Great adaptations.

smellslikehome said...

you cake turned out so pretty and i completely agree that it was amazing!