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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake


It is that time of the week again when we all look forward to the latest loveliness from the Crew over at Tuesdays with Dorie. This week's recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours was the Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, as chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker.

I have seriously loved being a part of this fun and dynamic group every week. It is so much fun and such a great honor to be a part of it. On top of that, I was chosen as one a TWD "Secret Ingredients" for this second round. Our Secret Ingredients is a new TWD feature where everyone in the group can nominate their favorite blogs for the week. Then three of the TWDer's favorites are chosen that inspired the group in some way and then a small write up about those blogs is written. I am SO completely flattered to have been chosen and that everyone loved the marshmallows I made. I don't know what to say other than thank you, thank you, thank you! TWD ROCKS!! It has been a major highlight of my week.

Well... my cake turned into cupcakes, and since I couldn't find any figs at the store (seriously, I looked everywhere) it ended up with dried cherries instead. On top of that, I decided to make cupcakes because I just couldn't figure out for sure with no visual aid in the book what exactly was meant by a 10" fluted tart pan. I think I know, but I just really wasn't sure. Since I didn't have a pan in those dimensions anyway, I just went the cupcake route.

It figures that the one time I remember to not overfill the muffin cups it is for a recipe that doesn't rise very much anyway. The cupcakes were really good, but I didn't really care for the dried fruit in it. The tartness of the cherries was nice against the sweetness of the cake, but I'm just not much of a fan of dried fruits in cakes in general. So, what can you do?

I added a little sprinkle of powdered sugar to mine just to make it look pretty. Will I try this recipe again? Hmmm, honestly, probably not. Unless I can find some figs, in which case, yes I will try again (I read that figs are good for high blood pressure, and since I'm still trying to manage mine... well, maybe it would be a good idea). In the meantime, on to next week!
Here is the recipe, with my notes in italics as usual (with color added this time - red for the cherries!).

One last note - If you haven't had the chance yet, don't forget to check out the Little Wonders round-up and email me your vote for your favorite entries.


Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake (Cupcakes)

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed 6 oz dried tart cherries
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 (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 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon, 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 1- 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat (or line 24 muffin cups with paper liners).

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. (Likewise, if you are using cherries, steep them for a minute if they are too dry or hard too).

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 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. (Okay, so this never happened for me. It was never light, just runny and grainy). 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. (This is NOT how I would have described my batter - but, it still seems to have worked. At this point is where I stirred in the cherries, gently).

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. (I skipped this step, because, honestly, I was just distracted and forgot ;).
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked the cupcakes for about 20 minutes until done and lightly golden). 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. (I dusted mine with a little powdered sugar. I also noticed that all the cherries sunk to the bottom - I really don't know if this is the way it was supposed to be with the figs too or not).


My other Tuesdays with Dorie posts:
Dark and White Chocolate Marshmallows
Bill's Big Carrot (Cup)Cakes


Sweet and Savory Eats said...

Sorry it's not your favorite. But, I definitely like your cupcake idea. Individual servings are always smart and easy.

Anonymous said...

Lovely cupcakes and fantastic idea to use cherries - I wish I had had a go now! Hx

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lovely idea to make cupcakes! I did enjoy the taste with or without the figs. I experienced the same troubles with the batter never turning sleek nor light. Hope you enjoy the peanut butter torte coming up!

Kristen said...

Mmm, these look good. I too think that I would like them without the fruit. I am not a fan of fruit in cakes...they look delicious though!

Mary Ann said...

they look good and I am thinking the cherries would be a great substitution. Yum!

kimberly salem said...

very cute cupcakes! sorry they weren't your favorite, though. i used figs and they also sank to the bottom, so i guess it's normal.

LyB said...

Your cupcakes turned out lovely! I've never had dried cherries, I'm going to have to look for those, they sound good!

Anonymous said...

I think your cupcakes look very yummy! I like the idea of dried cherries - and my husband would probably LOVE them, so maybe I'll try that next time.

Steph said...

Holly, your cupcakes look beautiful! I've been debating on whether to join TWD or not, I just can't decided if I can add another baking day on my week, but I really really want to. We'll see! Great job!

Marie Rayner said...

Your little cakes are adorable! I love the idea of dried cherries. I was not overly fond of the figs myself.

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah! Someone else who didn't like this cake! It was fun to make, but dried fruit ... No.

Lori said...

I am sorry you did not like the cake. I am not a fan for raisins in baked goods so I completely understand.

Hygeian Stew said...

Those cupcakes are really cute, and dried cherries seem like an interesting addition! Nice work.

Anonymous said...

I love the single serving idea. So cute.

Heather B said...

I love your cupcake idea! Great job! They look delicious!

CB said...

GMTA. I made cupcakes too! I love the mini servings. The powder sugar is a nice touch. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Engineer Baker said...

Your cupcakes are adorable! Thanks for trying it out and pushing the envelope!

Bumblebutton said...

Super cute cupcakes! I think I would have liked that better than a GIANT tart!

test it comm said...

I like the sound of these polenta and ricotta cakes. I would think that the dried cherries would work in this.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Your cupcakes are adorable! I like the powdered sugar dusted on top.

Tempered Woman said...

totally with you on cupcake servings, heh (HUGE surprise)
I'm stalking all the TWD entries for this one cause I'm torn. Hubby lurves sweet corbread and really liked fig cupcakes I made a while back. Still torn...
Sorry you weren't thrilled with them, they look great tho.

Mari said...

Well done, even if it wasn't to your taste.

Julius said...

Looks great.

I love your running commentary. :)

from Occasional Baker

Helene said...

They look wonderful! Perfect little morsel of sweetness!

Beth said...

Sorry, you weren't a fan this week. Your cupcakes still look great! :)

Susan @ SGCC said...

Great idea to make cupcakes and to use cherries. I think I'd have liked that better. I had the same experience with my cake. I had runny and grainy too, and my figs sank like lead.

Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

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