Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Polenta has been on my mind, actually a longing on my heart ever since this Cherry cake.
If u have never baked with Polenta , u will love to discover the crunch and jus the right bite it adds to cakes and bakes.
 I dont know if its about the recipes or the Polenta , but whatever have baked with polenta to date has been moist and has had a bite full which i love.

Going straight to this cake , lemme tell u , its one of the very wonderful cakes i have baked and is just what u need with a pot of ur fav brewed coffee.

This is a dessert on its own , and i love it originates from a French magazine.

The addition of Ricotta , makes it even more special and endearing and the honey makes for a wonderful cake that ages beautifully.

Halving the recipe gave me 5 little tart cakes (yeah i cant keep away from all things heart too long ).

The differently textured compote is the perfect accompaniment to this cake, with or without a scoop of vanilla cream or icecream.

Now my cake is really well browned but this could have been coz of the whey i added instead of water, which is high protien.
Whey is supposed to slightly toughen baked goods , giver a chewier crust (which i got) and brown well.
I dont know if it would have been softer without the Whey , but its quite moist and soft enough too.

 I could have added more figs atop too , and i added them atop coz they are so pretty there , instead of being hidden inbetween  and thats not to say that inbetween they would be good.

Had a nice browned crust and i dont know if am supposed to have this or no but i did , having a bit of issues with my new oven ,coz the thermostat needs to be replaced and if u dont watch , everything is burned away.

The recipe goes fast and easy too , whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl, keep the wet ready.
The addition of Lemon zest makes the citrusy flavours jump at u and in such a good way that more is never going to be enough.
Indian Vanilla pairs well with Figs , or this is wat i think and love.
Here is the ricotta whisked with whey till smooth , with the lemon zest and vanilla , add the sugar and egg , and lastly the melted butter , beating well and slow inbetween this is all.
 And fold in the dry ingredients at a slow speed , and pour into well buttered tart tins.
Now for those figs on top , lemme tell u in a bit what i did with them , something really nice and special which i will find myself repeating many a times.
That said i think this cake would be wonderful with cherries as well as with mangoes ,peaches or may be even dates.
  The best tart cake was the one that had the maximum figs , i think i should have added more to all , i thought it would be pretty with jus one in the centre but some around would look fine too.
Now back to the figs , the star , i made a little chunky compote before i placed the figs atop the tart cakes.
Simmered some Sherry , Honey , water with a little cinnamon , lods of vanilla and Vanilla sugar and some of the soft figs in there.
Ahh and 3 thin slices of lime (pic above).
 When all simmered and combined it comes together as this gorgeously flavoured figgy compote base into which u toss the sliced figs before placing them atop the cakes ,anyway u want to.
What i really love about this compote is that its so differently textured , like there is the figgy base in the honey and wine , the figs u add while simmering break down and for the fantastic base.
Then u have some of the figs that are jus about stewed and some a little more and some fresh with a sprinkle of cinnamon , made better with Vanilla and finally a large blob of butter.
Isnt it soooo good and like all honey cakes this one does well , so well the next day too.

Simmer 1/4 cup each of sherry/red wine/, honey and water with some vanilla sugar , half a vanilla bean or even less and a light touch of ur fav cinnamon.

As u simmer , add in all the soft figs u have in there(i had around 2), so that they break up and blend with the golden goodness and gets high on figgy flavour.

Stir in a blob or 2 of salted butter.
Simmer and when nice and thick and mushy , take off heat and toss the freshly sliced figs , before placing atop cake , and leave the rest there.

 (From Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours)

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
 1-2 whole vanilla bean/s scrapped
2 large eggs
 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
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.
 or a few mini ones.

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.
 Or make the compote as above and toss them in there.

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.
Or scatter figs above for a pretty sight.

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 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.

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