Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Cake, Tuesdays with Dorie / Monday, April 28th, 2008

Polenta cake 2

When I was 17, a friend set me up on a blind date with her cousin. He picked me up in a monstrous white truck with extra stereo speakers installed where padding should have been. The windows rattled. Deafening. He drove me to his parents’ house, had his mother make him a grilled cheese and tater tots (nothing for me), and ranted about how his ex-girlfriend had cheated on him and women couldn’t be trusted.

What does all this have to do with Dorie’s Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake?

It’s like a blind date. You want to like it.

What’s not to like about polenta, ricotta, sugar, honey, butter, and figs? Separately, delicious. In this particular combination, grainy and cloying.

Still, I wasn’t ready to give up on it. I tried adding Dorie’s suggested whipped cream sweetened with honey.

Didn’t help.

Sometimes bad cakes, like bad blind dates, require dumping. But one woman’s frog is another’s prince, so I give you the Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake recipe.

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, plus 1 tablespoon, cut into bits and chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature, with a little honey-sweetened whipped cream.

Polenta cake 1

40 thoughts on “Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

  1. It looks great…even if you didn’t like it. At least you made the attempt! And I can’t believe your blind dates mom fed just him…too funny!!

  2. Sorry you didn’t like it. We really did, and I was surprised, because I’m not a big fan of cake, and when I do eat it, texture is big for me. But I liked this one!

  3. That’s too bad you didn’t like the cake. I guess it’s a texture thing. I have a problem with the texture of creme brulee… I just can’t eat it.

    Thanks for sharing your blind date story, it made me laugh :)

  4. Your cake looks fabulous nonetheless! My husband just loved this cake and he is not a cakey type of peson usually. I love the way you started this post off. Loved the blind date story!

  5. That’s a beautiful cake stand your frog is sitting on. :) I loved your post – what a great analogy! And what a horrible date!

  6. Lovely, even though you didn’t like it. I have to say, your story made me laugh out loud! You must have done something terrible to your friend for her to set you up on such a date! ;)

  7. LOL. Even though your blind date was TERRIBLE, at least it gives you a funny story right? Love the piped whip cream on top. ps. tater tots rule (but not for blind dates) ;)

  8. Your cake looks beautiful! I wish I had made it this week. I have a feeling I would have loved it.

    Good job, and great post. I’ve luckily been able to escape the dreaded blind date- your post made me laugh!

  9. Whew. I had the same impression you did. I’m glad to finally find someone else who didn’t like this cake. Your cake did look very handsome though.

  10. you didn’t even tell anyone his name… which is the best redneck part. I like your cake platter. Someone who really understands aesthetics must have gotten you that for Christmas.

  11. I’m still eating the cake, a small slice for breakfast, but I definitely wouldn’t make it again, even if I did have fine ground polenta. It was good for once, but I won’t ever wake up craving it.

  12. It looks great! Sorry you didn’t like it but there’s always next week! Great story about the date! What an idiot! Geez…men!

  13. I love your analogy! I wonder if a finer grain of cornmeal would be better? I liked it, but definitely would add some changes. It’s a good recipe to make a mission of, if nothing else :) yours looks beautiful!

  14. Hehe – cake = blind date – love it! Thanks for humoring me and trying it anyways! It looks beautiful!

  15. sorry you didn’t enjoy the cake, but it still came out looking beautiful! and what the frick? no tater tots!! that’s a deal breaker buddy! :)

  16. LOL, your blind date tale, cracked me up!!! It’s a bummer you didn’t like the cake, but I know what you mean. I was all ready to dislike this cake, but loved it in the end, so you just never know until you try it.

  17. Sorry about your blind date… and that you didn’t like the cake. But at least it turned out beautiful and you could get it out of the pan! Haha.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog. :)

  18. Your blind date story was a FUNNY preface to your critique of the cake. Thanks for sharing.

    I’m sorry that you didn’t like the cake. I’m glad you still tried it and took pictures, though. I think it turned out beautifully.

  19. Rebecca- I am dying laughing here! I had a horrible blind date experience myself once. We were at a fancy dinner theater and he was the most obnoxious guy ever! I was mortified to be seen with him. That was 20 years ago. Of course, he is now an incredibly successful businessman in town with a wife and 5 kids!

    Your cake looks lovely! I felt the same way you did about it. It’s too bad, because it really is a pretty cake.

  20. Ohh… I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you. I love the way you framed the story though… who hasn’t had a blind date they *wished* they liked.

  21. Great story. Too bad this cake didn’t taste as nice as your photographs look! Especially love your first photo, that fig looks perfect. Thanks!

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