This week’s recipe was chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker. When I found out what we were making this week, I was definitely a little nervous. This isn’t the sort of dessert I’d typically be drawn to. I tend to stick with things that are slightly more traditional. However, that’s part of the reason I joined this group – to step outside of my comfort zone. Despite paging through Dorie’s book more times than I can count, I’ve never even noticed this recipe. So, thanks for choosing it Caitlin and opening me up to new things!

I decided to substitute craisins for the figs in the recipe, as I don’t much care for figs (unless we count Fig Newtons). I also used cornmeal and not polenta (I don’t know exactly how they differ to be honest). When I finished making the batter, I had enough to make both a 10″ tart and a 4″ cake in a mini-springform pan. Everything seemed to be going well until my cakes came out of the oven. The small cake was fine, but the larger one never quite seemed right. For lack of a better word, it was greasy. I didn’t even use the extra butter on top that is included in Dorie’s recipe. It almost seemed like I undercooked the cake, but if that’s the case I’m not sure how – I baked it for 45 minutes, saw it pulling away from the sides of the pan and had my knife come out clean when I tested it!

Since the small cake turned out better, I tried a piece of that one. I didn’t hate it, but I just don’t think it was my thing. (That’s a rousing endorsement, isn’t it?) That said, I’ve browsed a number of the other results over at TWD, and a majority of the girls seemed to like this cake. Be sure to check out their cakes!

Next week’s recipe is a Peanut Butter Torte and I can’t wait!

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by 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 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.