First of all, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and enjoyed time with family and friends! Me, I had a great Christmas – I got new silverware! And my thoughtful hubby bought me some really fancy vanilla paste for my stocking, which I am SUPER excited to use! Not to mention, we had a great time with our families and both decided this was our best married Christmas so far! So, all-in-all…great Christmas. But now onto more important things like MY VERY FIRST CHEESECAKE!!! YIPPEEEE!! (Can you tell I’m just a wee bit proud of myself here?).
I want to give Anne of Anne Strawberry a HUGE thanks for picking this week’s TWD recipe: Tall and Creamy Cheesecake, and forcing me to get over myself and finally make a cheesecake! That’s right – I’ve never in my life made one. Everyone has told me how simple and no-fail they are, but for some reason, cheesecake has always been one of those things I’ve always been scared to death to attempt. I know, dumb, right? So now I can say that I’ve MADE ONE and it was a HUUUUUUUUUUGE success!! I took it to my hubby’s family Christmas and everyone seemed to really enjoy it (brownie points for me!). This was not only simple to make, but the best freaking cheesecake I’ve ever put in my mouth…I’m so glad I followed the recipe totally as is, because this was perfect as Dorie makes it. Perfect, I tell you!! I can’t wait to make another one of these….I feel so big and powerful now – like I’ve conquered something deep inside of me….who knows, maybe I’ll give brioche another try soon (or maaaaaybe not…). Anyway, go check out Anne’s blog and get the recipe for this FREAKING AWESOME CHEESECAKE. Do it. Right now. Go.
(sorry there are no pictures of the actual slices of cake….I couldn’t take a hacked up cake to family Christmas)
This is probably going to be a short post because I still have a tiny bit of shopping left to do today!
Here are just a couple of little things I wanted to share with you because they’re simple, take practically no time to prepare, and they’re darned TASTY! They are: my great-grandmother’s gingerbread and quick and easy saltine toffees. So good!! So here we go!
These toffee squares are just about the easiest snack/dessert to make and they’re oh-my-gosh delicious to boot! Perfect for parties or homemade gifts! I had some unexpected company this weekend and decided to whip these up for a little snack and they were a huge hit! It took literally about 10 minutes to make. I know it sounds weird because you make it with saltine crackers, but I’m telling you, it works!
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
40 saltine crackers
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Lay a flat layer of crackers out on the foil. In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar and butter until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is thickened and sugar is completely dissolved. Pour this mixture over the crackers and spread to coat evenly. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until the toffee becomes bubbly. After removing the pan from the oven, let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, let them soften and melt, and then spread them into an even layer. Refrigerate to harden, then break into chunks for serving. (These are soooooooooo good!!)
Ok, next up is my Baba’s gingerbread – I had been searching everywhere for a good gingerbread recipe to make for hubby one night (and coming up sort of empty handed). I should’ve known that all it took was one phone call to my mother to fix everything! She gave me this recipe – my great-grandmother, Baba’s recipe; and it’s DELICIOUS! It has just the right amount of spice and molassess….it was so good served warm with a (big ‘ol) dollop of whipped cream on top! Hubby loved it! Thanks again Baba, for yet another perfect recipe!
(Unfortunately, I was in a big hurry and didn’t have time to take very good pictures of this – I would’ve liked to top it with a little powdered sugar and some whipped cream so you could get the real effect of how good this is…but you’ll just have to use your imagination!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup molassess
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup boiling water
Mix together the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molassess, mixing well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, spices, soda and salt, then add to wet mixture. Stir to combine, then add the boiling water and mix. Pour batter into a greased square pan and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until springy.
I hope you enjoy these recipes….they’re perfect for the holidays! Merry Christmas and happy baking!
**There is an updated post on this recipe- if you’d like to see it, click here
I like to think of myself as sort of a “fancy” girl – I really love big, elaborate, overdone things….nothing gets me excited like getting a big fat present, or being on stage and getting one heck of an applause. Big, elaborate stuff is great…really; but honestly, it’s the simple little things that make me really happy. Simple things like my hubby getting home from work everyday (I get so excited when I hear the garage door opening); or having a fire going in my fireplace; my mom loading me up with all of her leftover Christmas decorations; watching my favorite Christmas movie with a mug of hot chocolate; the hot guy on Lost. It’s all about the simple things.
This cake is definitely one of those simple things that puts a big ‘ol smile on my face and a “mmmMMM!” on my lips. My mom’s Cinnamon Pound Cake.
I didn’t really have that much of an appreciation for this cake when I was a little younger. My mom would make it (usually around Christmas, or in the winter) and everybody just scarfed it up (um, yeah, ‘scarfed’ is a word) and went on and on about how good it was. I personally didn’t think it was all that great- I mean, I liked it alright…I just didn’t get the “wow” factor. Don’t know why. I was in high school…I had to be difficult – otherwise everybody would’ve been bored. It wasn’t until after I was married, and was having my parents and in-laws over for a nice dinner before Christmas that I ever made this cake on my own. I was searching for a really good dessert – something that would make everybody know in their heart of hearts that I was the best little wife and cook there ever was (I don’t think such a dessert exists…) and I kept coming up empty handed. Either it was too difficult or too simple. Finally I somehow decided on the cinnamon pound cake, and as it turned out, that cake was the perfect end to a mediocre dinner (I had only been married like, 2 months…I was still working on the whole “company over for dinner” thing. I think I served a casserole…hehe). It was so delicious with a big cup of strong coffee – everybody loved it. Including me! Somehow, my tastes had changed and I grew to love that cake in just one evening! Now I make it every single year….and it’s SOOOOOO good! And SOOOOOO simple!! And the best thing is, it tastes best in the morning with your coffee…I love cake for breakfast. This cake always gets rave reviews, no matter where I take it. I sent some to work with hubby and he said his coworkers went nuts over it. Try it! I promise you’ll love it!
Cinnamon Pound Cake
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 yellow butter cake mix (don’t use white cake mix – it has to be butter!)
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup canola oil
1 – 8 oz. container sour cream (you can use reduced fat, but in my opinion, it doesn’t taste the same)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and sprinkle half of the mixture in the greased bundt pan – shake it all around to coat the entire pan. Mix cake mix with pudding, oil, sour cream, eggs and other half of cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour into pan and bake for 45 – 50 minutes until springy. Cool for 20 minutes before taking out of pan.
As I sit here, listening to my husband’s rantings about the “dadgum @#%$%^&*# round cake pan thingie (springform pan) that is impossible to clean” (hey, but its nice to have help in the kitchen, right?), I’ve come to the conclusion that I really dislike caramel…and peanuts….on top of a brownie cake. In fact, I hate it. It was so bad, I threw the whole thing in the trash – there’s no way I would’ve sent that to work with hubby tomorrow – nuh-uh, no way. However, it was most likely completely my fault. I think I overbaked my cake – thus making it dry; I think I over cooked my caramel, thus giving it a funky kind of flavor. Not a tasty cake. I’m very glad I made it, though – I almost skipped TWD this week…again. I’m glad I didn’t, though – I’ve been dying to make the Caramel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake (chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy), and now I know that I don’t like it – which is really disappointing, but at least now I know!
And yes, I know, once again my pictures are total and utter doo-doo. I waited until the last minute to make this and had to take my pictures at night….again. All these hideous photos are starting to really bum me out….
If you would like the recipe (don’t worry – I’m sure yours will most definitely turn out better than mine), go visit Tammy’s blog. Maybe next week I’ll be more responsible and not wait until 8:00 the night before to start baking….maybe.
Ok, look, it was 8:30 last night, the sun had gone down hours ago, it was hubby’s birthday and we wanted cake PRONTO. So, yes, I took pictures in horrible lighting, yes, they look awful, yes, it looks like a doody cake….am I sorry? Not so much…..what the heck am I supposed to do when it gets dark so stinking early nowadays? I can’t take pictures of a half-eaten birthday cake! Ahem, anywhoo, I’ll stop ranting and continue with my birthday cake post…..
I’ll admit that even if my lighting had been adequate, this cake still would’ve looked like something you use to fertilize your lawn, rather than serve to your husband on his birthday. I greased the heck out of my cake pans and this suckers STILL stuck! Plus, trying to frost a cake after a few too many glasses of wine, with your husband giggling in the background is never going to be an easy task. Luckily, taste is all that matters, right? RIGHT?! Ok fine, so appearance has a little something to do with it as well, but even though my cake looked terrible, it tasted reeeeeally good!! The cake layers were so moist – I don’t think I’ve ever had a chocolate cake that was more moist than this one, honestly. I mean, almost brownie-like! Mmmmm…brownies. Anyway, I chose to halve the recipe for the ganache frosting/filling and use a layer of chocolate mousse in the middle – it seemed like a pretty good idea to me, but after tasting it, I think next time I’ll just stick to the recipe and use the ganache for the frosting and the filling. I think the mousse just made the cake too rich (yes, in my opinion there is such a thing!). This really is an awesome recipe, though – SO worth a try. And next time I’ll do my best to A.) make it prettier and B.) take pictures in better lighting!
Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Gourmet, March 1999
For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
For ganache frosting and filling
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
Special equipment: two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans
Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.
Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable.
Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.
So you’ve all seen the lovely picture of our new house in one of the posts below…yay, shiny new house! We’ve been living here for almost two weeks now and its really become a “home” – all the furniture’s moved in, the rooms are painted, the pictures are hung, the hideous 80′s-esque sliding mirrored doors in the bathroom are gone (thank the Lord for that!). Everything is near perfect….except when it comes to photographing my food!!! In our old apartment, I had a perfect picture-taking area in my dining room; there was a window that provided exactly enough natural light – perfect for an amateur food blogger with little to no photography skills. So now I have my wonderfully large, formal dining area in my lovely new house- perfect for hosting a large dinner party….but there’s no place to take good pictures! I have plenty of windows, but by the time I get finished making dinner/baking for TWD, there’s not enough light coming through them. All I get is shadows. Boo!! Now I know I’m probably being a tad dramatic (its what I do best), and I’m sure after lots of experimenting I’ll eventually find an ideal spot for my food pics! Until then, I guess I’ll go ahead and post these fugly pictures….please don’t judge me.
Ok, I’ll get to the point of this post, which is obviously, my first TWD in my new kitchen!! YIPPEE!! So, Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by Michelle of Bake-En…this was “WOW-OHMYGOSH-BLOW-ME-AWAY GOOD“! Here’s the gist of the cake: sweet juicy plum halves are nestled down in a cake batter with brown sugar, orange zest and lots of vanilla…..sound good? Oh trust me, it is!
As I was reading through the recipe I was sort of thinking to myself, “oooh, you know, I bet the actual cake part of this won’t have a whole lot of flavor…hmmm, maybe I should add something to it…hmmm’“. I thought long and hard about adding a little something extra to the cake batter to give it some oomph; but in the end I decided not to because well, um, its Dorie, and she’s a freaking genius. Good thing I didn’t – the cake part (minus the plums) could’ve stood on its own two feet as far as I’m concerned! The orange zest and vanilla added so much flavor – and it was super moist! Oh-so-yummy!! The plums on top only added to the deliciousness – they got all soft and juicy…mmm. I loved this cake, people – LOVED it. In fact, I think I’d go so far as to say this is my favorite TWD recipe so far!
Its just too bad my pictures are so funky looking. All shadowy and weird. Promise you won’t write my blog off because of the steady stream of bad pictures that are inevitably headed your way….just accept me in spite of my hideous photo-taking skills. Don’t worry, they’ll get better – I promise!
…but this cake is!! Tee hee, there’s my sad attempt at a little humor……ok enough of that! This week’s recipe was the Black and White Banana Loaf, chosen by Ashlee of A Year In The Kitchen, and I gotta say – the more I thought about it, the more I decided this was a fantastic pick! Way to go, Ashlee!! It seems like an awful lot of the picks lately have either been chocolatey and richer than rich or a fruit cobbler or some sort. (Don’t get me wrong, I love rich and I love me some cobbler, but I can only handle so much, right?) This cake..loaf..bread..whatever you want to call it absolutely hit the spot! It was slightly chocolatey, but not knock-your-socks-off-go-into-a-sugar-coma chocolatey – just a hint of chocolate, and it was the perfect amount. And the banana flavor was just strong enough, but not too strong – again, perfect. Both hubby and I (and hopefully my parents – I left half of the loaf with them!) thoroughly enjoyed it – it was the perfect amount of sweetness and really moist!
I got lucky and my marbling somehow turned out perfectly (well, in my opinion it did, at least!). Some of the folks at TWD had said their batter was too runny and that there marbling didn’t quite turn out, so naturally I was afraid the same thing would happen to mine, but I guess the baking gods were smiling upon me and my loaf!
If you want the recipe, head over to Ashlee’s blog and check out her take on the Black and White Banana Loaf. Also, check out our TWD site to see all the other fabulous bakers’ versions of this weeks’ recipe! I’m just gonna tell you right now – you want this recipe…its stinking GOOD.
Ok, I admit it – I, Amy-the-blogger, am a CHICKEN. There. I said it – now you know.
Last week, I excitedly went to check the Tuesdays with Dorie webpage to see what this week’s recipe would be….and there it was – “Madam Chow of Madam Chow’s Kitchen has chosen Pecan Honey Sticky Buns…” Oh grrrrrrreat. Brioche – my arch nemesis. I have tried (and failed miserably) making brioche before – Dorie’s Golden Brioche Loaves, as a matter of fact. After hours of mixing, rising, “slapping”, and countless phone calls to my mother (“ok, now am I doing this part right?”) I ended up with a rock-hard, greasy loaf of…well, let’s just say not brioche! So, needless to say, when I saw this week’s pick, I was a little nervous. Ok fine – I was shaking in my BOOTS, I admit it!! Go ahead, judge me all you want…I didn’t make the little Pecan Sticky Devils and I’m not sorry! On top having late night Turandot rehearsals almost every night and opening Saturday (which went awesome, by the way!! My solo went perfectly! Phew!), which didn’t leave any time for much else this week, I wasn’t prepared to stare failure in the face again so soon. So, I opted for the Almost Fudge Gateau instead.
Lemme tell ya, this is one tasty little “cake”. I was shocked at how dense and fudgey it was, since it calls for beaten egg whites, which I thought would’ve made it light and fluffy. But, the title describes it perfectly – almost fudge! Not surprisingly, that’s why I chose the recipe from all of the past TWD recipes – anything with “almost fudge” in the title will win me over automatically every time! I will say, though – use a chocolate that you really, really enjoy, because the chocolate is the most predominant flavor in the cake. I used a pretty dark chocolate, so my cake was a little on the bitter side, but still very tasty. I might try it with a milk chocolate next time, just to see how it turns out.
And definitely go with the optional glaze!! YUM! I can’t imagine this cake without the chocolate ganache on top of it! Ok, ok, so it is a bit of a chocolate overload, but hey, its delicious and its worth it!
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.
To Make the Optional Glaze:
First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.
Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.
Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.
If you would like to visit the blogs of the TWD members who aren’t big whiney-baby-scaredy-pants chickens and check out their versions of Pecan Honey Sticky Buns, go here.
P.S. Don’t judge me.
Um….YUM. That’s pretty much all there is to say about these little cakes. Molten, gooey, chocolaty goodness oozing from the center of a dense, warm chocolate cake. (Ok, now do me a favor and wipe the drool off of your mouth.) These Gooey Chocolate Cakes have quickly become my favorite “I’m-craving-something-warm-and-chocolatey-and-I-need-it-NOW” desserts (They surpassed brownies and chocolate chip cookies long ago). When you cut into them, the warm gooey filling oozes out all over your plate. Its almost like sitting down and eating a bowl of raw cake batter (don’t deny it – you know you’ve always wanted to do it)….except so much better! And the fact that they only take about 13 minutes total to make…well, that would make any chocolate-craving-woman-on-the-edge jump for joy!
So, we’ve covered the fact that these cakes will satisfy even the most severe chocolate cravings, but they can also serve as a fancy “show off-y” dessert when you’re having company. I served these when I recently had some friends over for a nice sit-down meal and they were a HUGE hit. I’m pretty sure my guests were on the verge of licking their plates clean.
Gooey Chocolate Cakes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces coarsely chopped milk chocolate,
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons of sugar
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet. (I discovered that there is just enough batter to perfectly fill 4 ramekins)
Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogeneous. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs. Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. (the first time I made these, 13 minutes was too long – they came out totally firm in the center. Now I bake them at 11 minutes and they’re perfectly runny and gooey every time.) Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)
Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board. Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.
Recipe source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours
So, when I found out that this week’s TWD recipe (chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker ) was Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, I was like, “what the heck is that?” My buddy Jessica and I were a little wary of making this cake for a couple of reasons: 1.) we’re not big fans of figs, and 2.) polenta?……in a dessert??? But after some encouragement from both of our moms and the decision to use another type of fruit, we decided to go for it! Try everything once, right? And plus- I mean, come on – if Dorie says its good, then you can bet it’ll end up in my kitchen!
You know, this cake was actually really tasty! I decided to use dried California apricots instead of dried figs, and they really went well with the polenta. I also forgot my lemon zest (one of those recurring “oops” moments that happen so frequently in my kitchen), but the tartness of the apricots made up for it nicely. My mom and dad happened to be visiting just as I had finished the cake, so I decided to use them as “guinea pigs”. They really loved it! Especially my mom (I ended up sending the whole rest of the cake home with her she enjoyed it so much!).
A lot of the TWD girls commented on there being almost too much sweetness to the finished product, so I only used 1/2 a cup as opposed to the 3/4 cup it calls for and it turned out perfectly sweet. All in all, this is a great recipe! I’m so glad I didn’t “wuss out” this week and skip it just because it sounded different. I’m proud of myself for trying something new and I think now my mom has a new favorite! Thanks Caitlin, for pushing me to try something new and “different”!
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed (I used dried apricots)
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
3/4 c. sugar (I only used 1/2 c.)
3/4 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.