For this week’s edition of Tuesdays with Dorie, Caitlin of Engineer Baker chose Dorie’s Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake. I made it last night,and I’ve got to say, the jury is still out for me on this one. I could see eating this as a dessert after a Mediterranean meal. The figs are really nice, and the best part of the cake. The sweetness was just right. I wasn’t crazy about the texture, though – I felt like I was eating sweet cornbread. I wish I would have added more figs (the box of dried Mission figs from Trader Joe’s was more than enough). But all in all? More successful than some recipes.
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
recipe from “Baking: From My Home to Yours” courtesy Dorie Greenspan
About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tbsp cut into bits and chilled
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.