Monday, April 28, 2008

TWD: Fluted Polenta & Ricotta Cake

Cornbread is one of my most absolute favorite things in the whole entire world. My mom’s cornbread, especially. I love the crispy edges, the coarse but tender texture. Yum.

In my family… cornbread is always savory. We refer to sweet cornbread as yankee cornbread and because it’s just something so foreign to me and also because I like my sweet dishes to be sweet and my savory dishes to be savory… I’ve just never been a big fan of sweet cornbread… whether it was made for dinner or dessert.

So, yes, I was quite nervous about this recipe. I honestly, would have skipped it altogether, but I’m going to be out of town all next week and won’t be able to participate, so I knew that I needed to complete this week’s recipe.

It came together really easy. I used dried figs and also dried cherries in the recipe. And when it was made… all I could think was… wow, this is just like a really sweet piece of cornbread. So, I took my pictures and then proceeded to throw the rest away.

I wish I could shake this whole sweet vs savory texture thing… maybe one of these days my palate will mature enough for that.

Anyway, a lot of other people really liked this recipe… so if you like sweet cornbread and would like it as a dessert, you should definitely give this recipe a try. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the groups cakes at Tuesdays with Dorie

And thanks to Caitlin for picking such an unusual recipe this week! Check her blog out, too.. it’s really good! Engineer Baker

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

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 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
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.


Anonymous said...

Oh, how pretty! You did a lovely job - both with the cake and the pictures. Too bad it didn't appeal to you because of the sweetness, but oh well - we all have things like that that just don't work for us. Nice job!!

April said...

pretty pictures! and i like the new masthead!

amanda. said...

Cornbread is one of my favorite things too. But I was raised by a Yankee so I like it sweet. ;)

Your pictures are beautiful! The cake looks absolutely delicious.

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are absolutely fabulous, wonderful job!

Engineer Baker said...

Beautiful pictures! Sorry you couldn't get past the Yankee cornbread aspect :P

CB said...

I wasn't a fan either but I don't like cornbread (Yankee or not). haha. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Gretchen Noelle said...

Too bad you did not enjoy it much! You did a great job with it!

mimi said...

who you callin' a yankee, miss?! hehe, just kidding. your cake came out beautiful even if it didn't win you over to the sweet side!

Anonymous said...

Your pictures are beautiful. I loved the sweet cornbread.

Mari said...

Your cake looks great and I love the cake stand!