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.
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
- 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. Serve the cake warm, or at room temperature, with a little honey-sweetened whipped cream.