TWD Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

I think I was about to be escorted from the shops yesterday. I am sure others had a similar moment, squeezing bags of figs to find the softest juiciest ones.

I had it narrowed down to 2 brands and I realised I had closed my eyes as I was feeling the bag and thought it was time to move on before I heard “security check isle 7”.

Seriously soft figs in hand I moved on to baking.

One of the advantages of weighing ingredients is being able to slowly watch the honey drizzle from a spoon into the creamy depths of the bowl. I had to rush for the camera as the unintended swirl looked nicer than any icing tricks I had ever accomplished.


I decided I would try my silicone tart pan.  Brave I know, but given I knew I would chill the tart before I turned it out and it was a rather fancy Jamie Oliver one with the metal rings to give it some stability I decided to take the risk.  However given my last sticking to the bottom of the pan experience I did cut a baking paper round.  As I hadn’t seen a picture of the cake I didn’t know if the figs would be seen or not so I laid them out to look pretty.

As just about everyone reading this has made the cake there is no point dragging out the finished product suspense.  Alas, the fruit layout just ensured everyone had a chance for an equal portion of fig.  I generally don’t spend so much time on careful placement and since it didn’t show you are the only ones I can share this with.  My family already think I am quite mad about my cooking (although they rarely complain about the end product).  Too much detail for those not impassioned can take away from the magic.  

However, for those of us with the cooking bug, the beauty is in the detail.

I used rain forest honey in the cake and it was lovely.  I gave the days ripening suggested in the recipe.  It un-molded  with no problems.  (Mental note ALWAYS use baking paper).  

This cake reminded my husband of the honey soaked semolina cakes we had in Morrocan resturants.  On reflection as honey is the most prominent note in both of these cakes.  The texture makes them very different in my mind.  I didn’t taste the lemon at all.  However, I am sure it was there in the background as balance to the richness of the honey and figs.

Matthew, my husband told me I must write that this cake is amazing covered in custard.  I wish I could say it was a creme anglaise with flecks of vanilla seeds, but no.  Paul’s custard from a carton.  Matthew’s favourite.  (Not to say he doesn’t like the ‘good stuff’ he just has a utilitarian view of food

Caitlin of Engineer Baker has chosen this weeks TWD recipe.  Thank you.  Please check out her blog for the recipe or of course Baking from My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan page 200-201.

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake from Baking: from my home to yours.  By Dorie Greenspan.

Makes 8 servings

About 16 moist, dried figs stemmed.  (Woolworths Naytura brand seemed the best in my part of the world.) 210g.

1 cup (130g) medium grain polenta or yellow cornmeal.

1/2 (65g) cup plain flour 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup (225g) ricotta

1/3 cup (80ml) tepid water

3/4 cup (150g) sugar

3/4 cup (250g) honey

grated zest of 1 lemon

8 Tablespoons (112g) unsalted butter melted and cooled.  Plus 1 Tablespoon (14g) cut into bits and chilled.

2 large eggs.

Getting Ready

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325F (160C).  Butter a 10 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (I successfully used a silicone tart pan but I strongly suggest lining the bottom with baking paper, and the rigid nature of my pan made it easy to ‘pop’ it out) and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Check the figs are plump, If they are in 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 (It seems Aussie figs are bigger as both Sydney based Steph and I cut ours in quarters).

Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder and salt together.

Working with  stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water on low speed until very smooth.  With the mixer on 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 will 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 35-40 minutes (it seems most bakers needed closer to 50 minutes for this, as did I) or until a thin knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sided of the pan, and the butter will have left light coloured circles in the top (mine left little depressions).  Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes (If using silicone you must let the product cool completely before un-molding, and to be very sure I let mine ripen in the fridge and turned it out fridge cold).  Cool to warm, or cool completely.






18 responses to “TWD Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

  1. good looking cake! and you can take secret satisfaction in knowing that your figs were perfectly positioned! 🙂

  2. Your figs are laid so perfectly. Beautiful.

  3. Ha, I often wonder who is watching me suspiciously when I stand at a row of items and stare at it for a while, then pick through all of the same things, then stare at the one thing, then come back in a few minutes to make sure I made the right choice…

  4. …just imagining you trying to outrun grocery store security…a package of figs clutched in your hand. Great post, and very lovely cake. I think, even though you can’t see them, your cake just screams “artfully arranged figs inside!” 😉

  5. Oh, why didn’t I think of custard? THAT would have coaxed the husband into trying a bite.

  6. Definitely… beauty in the details. I totally appreciated your symmetrical flower fig arrangement. Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  7. Beautiful cake!

    from Occasional Baker

  8. Maybe custard would have improved mine!

  9. Oooh, I think I could eat anything covered in custard! Pretty cake.

  10. Great job, and I like your photos!

  11. Oooh, I imagine that it WOULD taste good with custard! I’ll have to try that next time.

  12. Looks good! Yes, a nice smooth custard would go very nicely over it.

  13. Ha! I’m laughing at your recap of squeezing the figs. Great job on your cake.

  14. Wonderful job! The fig layout is gorgeous even though it was later tucked away. Thanks for letting us know about the custard. 🙂

  15. Good job with the cake! The figs look so juicy. I have to admit that I’ve never seen figs before, so your picture was educational. I’m glad that you enjoyed the cake.

    What kind of custard did you use to garnish the cakes? Also, what is rain forest honey? Sorry for all the questions, but I’m curious.

  16. LOL…I’m glad that I’m not the only one who squeezes her food at the grocery store! Your cake looks fabulous, well done!

  17. andreainthekitchen

    The custard I used is one from the supermarket here. Paul’s is the brand. You buy it in cartons 600ml- 1l. At Christmas time they bring out the 2l size. Australians love their custard. Paul’s are a major dairy company throughout Australia.
    I just went and read the label (I lean towards liberal amounts of denial when it comes to most packaged foods). It contains skim milk, full cream milk, milk solids, maize thickener, dietary fibre, vegetable gum stabilisers, mineral salt, flavours, colour.
    My husband loves the stuff. I like real, egg based custards (did you notice no eggs were harmed in the making of that product!)
    On to rainforest honey. We have in the tropics (alas not local, the honey comes from NSW) large areas of rainforest with lots of flowering plants hidden in the cool moist jungle. The bees that comes from that region don’t just feast on one kind of flower. They have their fill of many. So you get a natural blend. Many of the flowers result in a really strong flavoured honey (like the iron bark ones that come from Eucalytptus flowers). The rainforest honey I used, let nature do the mixing between the subtle and potentially dominant nectars and resulting honey.

  18. smellslikehome

    great job this week! glad to hear your cake was a hit with your hubby. 🙂

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