Tuesday, April 29, 2008

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Tuesdays With Dorie: Figs Galore

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was selected by Caitlin of Engineer Baker. When I first saw the recipe name of Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake I was intrigued. I don't think I have ever had polenta. As is my usual Monday ritual, the first thing I did when I came home was turn to my Dorie book and look up the recipe. I had spent the day trying to figure out what polenta was and was afraid that this might be a recipe I wouldn't like. But then I saw it...Plump Figs. After eating here figs and I have had a love affair. I love figs. I didn't think it was possible for me to love something so much when I think it looks so gross (have you seen the inside of a fig???). I figured that if the recipe had figs, then the use of polenta had to be a good thing. Luckily enough the recipe called for polenta or yellow cornmeal. And guess what? I had cornmeal already in stock and didn't have to run to the store and look like a lost soul aimlessly walking down each aisle trying to figure out where the polenta was.

Everything started out fine. I was excited to finally make something with figs and to use my little tart pans again. I decided to halve the recipe and who would have thought that was the best decision I made all weekend. First of all, I was distracted because I was talking to my sister and didn't butter the tart pans (not a problem since they were nonstick and there was enough butter in the batter to grease it up) and I added 2/3 cup of ricotta versus the 1/2 cup the recipe calls for. Did I mention that I added 2/3 cup of ricotta twice? "How did you do that Stephanie?" you ask. Well let me tell you...I blame it on my kitchen. One wrong move and my bowl full of ricotta, water, honey, sugar, and lemon zest fell all over the kitchen floor. GREAT. Since I halved the recipe I had just enough ricotta and lemon zest to make a second batch. Good thing too because I wasn't in the mood to leave the house again. This time everything went smoothly and the little suckers baked to perfection. Because they looked so plain to me I decided to make a fig spread and this was a great touch because it complemented the cornmeal consistency perfectly.

For the full recipe click here and check out all of the amazing blogs.

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Source: Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking From My Home to Yours”

About 8 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed (Since I used small tart pans, I sliced the figs)
1/2 cup medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal (I used cornmeal)
1⁄4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup ricotta
1/6 cup tepid water
1⁄4 and 1/8 cups sugar
1⁄4 and 1/8 cups honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 1⁄2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. (By halving the recipe I had enough batter to fill 3 small tart pans)

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. (I sliced them)

See what I mean about being gross looking?

Whisk the polenta (or cornmeal), 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 pans 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.

Pretty layer of figs.

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 cakes to a rack and remove the sides of the pans after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

Fresh out the oven.

Fig Spread

3/4 cup sliced dried figs
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp honey

Bring the water and honey to a boil, then add the dried figs and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Place the figs and fluid in a food processor and blend until thoroughly mixed.
Scrape the mixture out of the food processor and scoop some onto the tarts.
Serve and enjoy!

Before and After

Complete concoction with the addition of honey.

Close up of layers...cake, figs, cake, and more figs.


Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Oh, look at that honey. Gorgeous!


Bumblebutton said...

Love your drizzle! And your fig spread too. Have you ever seen the inside of a fresh fig? Now that's disgusting!

Lori said...

Good idea with the fig spread! Your cakes look great.

Anonymous said...

Aw, I'm sorry about your mishap. I'm glad you remade it though. Looks tasty!

CB said...

Love the honey drizzle. Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Dolores said...

Like the others you had me with the honey drizzle. And you sold it completely with the fig spread... thanks for the simple recipe!

Cheryl said...

I totally agree! Figs look nasty inside! There was a fig tree on base when I was in elementary school, and my mom would go pick them all the time. I thought (and still do think) that they look like they're full of worms when you bite into them. Ick, ick, ick! I tried one again for the first time last year, and...well...let's just say that my taste hasn't changed. ; ) I used fresh plums in my cake instead.

Jayne said...

That's absolutely gorgeous!!! I love the fig spread and the honey drizzle. So beautiful.

Emily said...

It looks great with the drizzled honey! Nice touch.

Ally said...

I have spilled ingredients on the floor many times, good for you to not give up. Your tarts look absolutely wonderful, and lol at the "inside of a fig". : )

Gretchen Noelle said...

Sorry for all the troubles in baking this. Good job for having another go at it. Fig spread - yum!

Anonymous said...

The fig spread is a GREAT idea. I do the same thing on Mondays. I look to see the recipe at work and then open the book when I walk in the door.

Cecilia said...

Beautiful mini-cakes! I'm glad that you persevered after the batter drop and made the cake a second time. Wasn't it delicious? The fig spread was probably a super tasty addition. Great job!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Finally a fig lover! I'm still not a fig lover, but I did like them in this recipe.

Anonymous said...

My favorite place to buy figs is Holy Food Imports since they are grown in Israel, and imported to the US. They also are reasonably priced and delicious.