Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Every morning I grab my morning coffee, sit down at my computer and catch up with what’s going on in the world. First, I check my emails, and then I take a look at at my local newspaper as well some others, like the New York Times, the L.A. Times and the Miami Herald. After that, I click on my Google Reader to see what my fellow bloggers have been up to.
A couple of months ago, I started noticing posts from a newly formed group called Tuesdays with Dorie or TWD. TWD is a group of baking enthusiasts and Dorie Greenspan fans, whose mission is to bake their way through Dorie’s cult classic, Baking: From My Home to Yours. Each week a new recipe from the book is selected, and the TWD members bake and post about it. It sounded like a great idea! I already had the book and used it frequently. I would have joined right then and there, but after recently having joined the venerable Daring Bakers, I just didn’t know if I had the time to commit.
After drooling over week after week of fabulous Dorie-inspired creations, I could stand it no more. I wanted in. So, here I am presenting my first offering as an official member of Tuesdays with Dorie, and I couldn’t be happier!
When I learned that this week’s recipe, chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker, was Dorie’s Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake, I breathed a little sigh of relief. It is not a very fussy or complicated cake to make. I figured that I couldn’t possibly mess it up. Perfect for my TWD debut.


This cake is a moist and dense polenta or corn meal based cake, flavored with honey and stuffed with dried figs. I’d never had a polenta cake before, but I’ve eaten a lot of cornbread and I assumed that the texture would be similar. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of cornbread. But, I’m nothing if not a good sport, so I put my game face on and baked it anyway.
My end result confirmed my suspicions. This cake definitely had the same grainy texture as cornbread, but was a lot more delicious. With it’s earthy, honey undertones and sweet, chewy figs, it has earned its place in Dorie’s repertoire. Surprisingly, my fourteen year-old daughter loved it and ate two pieces. For “Miss OMG, I Can’t Eat THAT! It’s WAAAAAY to Fattening!!!”, that was major! This will never be one of my favorites, but added to the equation of good friends and good coffee, I think it would be quite nice.


Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
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 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.

46 responses to Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

  1. On April 29, 2008 at 1:01pm, Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

    This looks good, but probably would not be one of my fave’s either….perhaps w/a citrus undertone I may change my mind. I like figs and I am on the fence about cornbread (sometimes it is good, sometimes not so good). I made an almond polenta cake (giada’s) and it was tasty….w/a good cup o’coffee. You are a crazy baking fool….I give you credit.

  2. On April 29, 2008 at 1:01pm, Rebecca said...

    Congratulations! You have officially been baptized in butter. Welcome to TWD!

  3. On April 29, 2008 at 1:16pm, bakingwiththeboys said...

    The cake looks great and it is always nice to get positive feedback, especially when unexpected.

  4. On April 29, 2008 at 1:45pm, Bumblebutton said...

    A good girlfriend, warm drinks and this cake are perfect! If you got your daughter to have two slices, you know it was good!

  5. On April 29, 2008 at 2:05pm, nicisme said...

    Lucky you being able to get your daughter to eat it – my 14yr old son would take one look at the figs and say ‘no way’!
    Now I would love to have a slice or two (or even 3!)

  6. On April 29, 2008 at 2:27pm, noble pig said...

    Beautiful, I mean what a wonderful recipe!

  7. On April 29, 2008 at 2:29pm, Dana McCauley said...

    Baking weekly is more than my rump could handle. YOu and the TWD-ites must be pillar of strength when it comes to resisting temptation.

  8. On April 29, 2008 at 2:51pm, joanne at frutto della passione said...

    Wow, Daring Bakers and TWD. I am impressed and envious. I have been waffling about joining one or the other, but am worried about not being able to come through. I’ll just keeping watching for a little while longer – it certainly is inspirational!

  9. On April 29, 2008 at 3:13pm, Proud Italian Cook said...

    Susan, To my Hubby and I, polenta and ricotta is a match made in heaven!! So if it’s not quite your favorite feel free to send it my way! :O It looks outstanding!

  10. On April 29, 2008 at 5:42pm, karen said...

    great pictures. especially the second one, wow!

  11. On April 29, 2008 at 6:44pm, LyB said...

    So lovely! Those figs look so plump and juicy, I want to make the cake again but with those figs! Welcome to the group, your first offering looks delicious! :)

  12. On April 29, 2008 at 6:44pm, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Obsessive- Yeah. It was good, but not great. Now, I really like cakes made wil almond meal, so I might really go for Giada’s.

    Rebecca- Thanks! I’m glad to be aboard!

    BWTB- Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

    Bumblebutton- That exactly how I felt about it. A comfortable cake.

    Nicisme- Lol! My child definitely isn’t a typical 14 year old!

    Noble Pig- Thanks. I can’t take credit for the recipe, but I’m glad you liked it.

    Dana- It’s funny, but since I started doing so much baking, I don’t look for sweets as much. Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by desserts all the time. I actually have MORE willpower now.

    Joanne- You could certainly handle one of these groups. The DBers only bake once a month!

    Marie- Thanks! If I could I would send it to you.

    Karen- Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it! :)

  13. On April 29, 2008 at 6:48pm, CookiePie said...

    Your cake is beautiful! Two of the magic words for me: cornmeal and figs. If your daughter doesn’t want anymore, I’ll have a slice…

  14. On April 29, 2008 at 7:16pm, CB said...

    What a great initiation into TWD. Glad you liked it. Welcome!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  15. On April 29, 2008 at 7:18pm, Peter M said...

    I love the polenta texture and the gooey, black figs…I’m coming over for coffee and lots of cake!

  16. On April 29, 2008 at 7:27pm, We Are Never Full said...

    I absolutely LOVE the sound of this cake. Sounds simple and moist without being too complex. mmmm figs.


  17. On April 29, 2008 at 8:03pm, Kevin said...

    Your cake looks great! I am really interested in finding out what the texture of this cake is like, It sounds really interesting. I will have to make it.

  18. On April 29, 2008 at 9:04pm, Isa said...

    Hey! This recipe was my debut to TWD too!
    And I agree with you. Not my favourite recipe, but not bad at all. Thanks for sharing!

  19. On April 29, 2008 at 9:22pm, Anonymous said...

    I love cornbread / polenta, so I’d probably love this. Your photos are beautiful!

    I have to say, though, that I was a little saddened to read that your daughter is already cultivating the fat-phobia at 14. :(

  20. On April 29, 2008 at 10:29pm, Heather said...

    This looks so elegant, just the perfect pastry to enjoy with a strong cup of orange pekoe. I’d eat it for breakfast any time.

  21. On April 29, 2008 at 11:49pm, steph- whisk/spoon said...

    welcome to the gang! sometimes homemade cake is too good for even a 14-year old girl to resist!

  22. On April 30, 2008 at 7:04am, Shari said...

    My daughter loved this cake too! Great job on the cake.

  23. On April 30, 2008 at 8:02am, Patricia Scarpin said...

    I love baking with cornmeal but oddly I don’t do it very often, Susan. This looks really good!

  24. On April 30, 2008 at 8:16am, Jescel said...

    I love cornbread, but I’m not sure about the figs..but the cake looks really good..

  25. On April 30, 2008 at 9:00am, Jayne said...

    Beautiful job!! Welcome to TWD!

  26. On April 30, 2008 at 9:21am, Pixie said...

    I’m truly jealous of this twd group- I would most definitely join if I could bake for others- but sadly, I hardly know anyone here at all and it just plain sucks!

    Anyhow, sweetie, you did a wonderful job and I look forward to seeing all your twd bakes. Have fun with it!

  27. On April 30, 2008 at 11:25am, lovesweetlove said...

    Welcome to TWD, This was my first week too. That’s too funny about your daughter. :)

  28. On April 30, 2008 at 5:22pm, Susan from Food Blogga said...

    I’ve had this recipe marked in my book for the longest time. Now you’re killin’ me Susan. It would be so much more fun to come over to your place and have a piece than make my own. Whadda ya say?

    PS-I tagged you if you feel like playing along.

  29. On April 30, 2008 at 5:43pm, Aran said...

    This looks stunning, seriously… gorgeous and delicious! Did you change your camera..? Your photos look so bright!!! Congratulations on this one!

  30. On April 30, 2008 at 6:58pm, Jen of A2eatwrite said...

    Oh, dear… I have all the ingredients on hand. Think. I. Have. To. Make. This….

    It looks SO good!

  31. On April 30, 2008 at 7:17pm, Cakespy said...

    Is it ok to say this looks totally bitchin’!? Because it does. And to Miss OMG It’s too fattening–come on, live a little! Glad she did!!

  32. On April 30, 2008 at 7:37pm, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    CookiePie- Thanks! Grab a fork and come on over!

    CB- Thank you! I’m glad to be on board.

    Peter- Glad you like it! You’re welcome here anytime.

    WaNF- I’m glad you like it. It has grown on me since I made it. I like it better now too.

    Kevin- If you make it, let me know how it turns out. :)

    Isa- Cool! I’m really looking forward to next week’s recipe.

    Anonymous- Thank you! I’m glad you liked the cake. Just to clarify – My comment was intended to be tongue in cheek. While she is careful about what she eats, my daughter doesn’t have a fat phobia. She is concerned about her appearance as any average teen-aged girl would be. In my opinion, the “fat phobia” in our society is being cultivated by the media and its obsession with perfection. Just sayin’… :)

    Heather- Thanks! Great idea! This is the perfect cake to do that with.

    Steph- Thanks! I’m so glad to be a part of the group.

    Shari- Thank you! Glad you liked it.

    Patricia- I haven’t baked with it before. I love to bake with almond meal. I guess I prefer the taste.

    Jescel- I’m glad you like the cake. I probably wouldn’t use figs again. I like them, but they were too sweet.

    Jayne- Thanks! I’m glad to belong.

    Oh Pixie! Go out and grab some people off the street if you have to. You would really enjoy this.
    I’m glad you liked my cake. :)

    Lovesweetlove- Hi! Welcome to you too. We’re gonna have some fun!

    Susan- Now that would be a great time! My door is always open to you.

    I’d love to play! 😉

    Thank you, Aran! You’re very sweet. I’m still using the same camera. It just depends on the time of day that I’m shooting as well as how hurried I am. 😉

    Jen- Uh oh! I don’t think you have a choice! 😉

  33. On April 30, 2008 at 8:12pm, Marc @ NoRecipes said...

    “earthy, honey undertones” love the description! I’m adding this to my to-bake list!

  34. On April 30, 2008 at 8:28pm, Gretchen Noelle said...

    Watching these posts week after week had gotten to me too! Lovely job! I have realized that a lot of people got a much thicker cake and I think I would like that. I may give this another go with yogurt and some other changes.

  35. On May 01, 2008 at 12:30am, Natalie said...

    Gorgeous pictures, and welcome!

  36. On May 01, 2008 at 12:55am, Manggy said...

    I, on the other hand, am a big fan of cornbread :) I’m excited that this is even more delicious! :)

    Hey, 14 is too young to be in that “it’s too fattening!!!” phase (oh, kids these days, haha!), but at least she knows how to eat, heh heh :)

  37. On May 01, 2008 at 2:47am, Mevrouw Cupcake said...

    Welcome aboard! Your cake looks just perfect, you’re off to a fabulous start!

  38. On May 01, 2008 at 4:29am, aforkfulofspaghetti said...

    Very purdy. I love the simple elegance of this.

  39. On May 01, 2008 at 6:49am, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Marc- Thanks! I’m glad you liked it. I hope you do give it a try.

    Thanks, Gretchen! I’d be interested to know the results of your tweaks on this.

    Natalie- Thank you! Glad to be a part of the gang!

    Manggy- Ah! Kids grow up so much faster these days. Everything they see and hear in the media is all about physical perfection. Mini-SGCC is actually a pretty level-headed kid, but girls that age are not used to seeing those new curves when they look in the mirror. 😉

    Mevrouw Cupcake- Thank you so much! I’m happy to be aboard!

    Forkful- Thanks! This recipe ddoes make a really pretty cake.

  40. On May 01, 2008 at 12:08pm, Mike of Mike's Table said...

    I’ve never had a polenta cake before but this looks awesome! This looks like something I have to try…

  41. On May 01, 2008 at 2:23pm, DocChuck said...

    I came to win those oven mitts not to talk about cake. Sorry.

  42. On May 01, 2008 at 6:18pm, Helen said...

    Welcome to the world of Dorie! Happy baking! Hx

  43. On May 02, 2008 at 1:38pm, Tina said...

    Sounds so delicious!!!

  44. On May 04, 2008 at 2:41am, Cakelaw said...

    Yum! I am a huge fig fan, and this lovely cake with its plump figs has reeled me in.

  45. On June 12, 2009 at 8:52am, sweetness said...

    I wish we'd see more of the daytime characters indulging in some of these tasty treats! Thanks for the recipes!

  46. On September 27, 2010 at 1:20pm, Amy B said...

    a few comments. Firstly, the amount of butter is never stated in the recipe. I did some searching and it seems that it was supposed to be 4 Tbsp in the recipe and 1 Tbsp dotted on top? Also, I don’t know if I did something wrong, but it took longer than the 40 min. A lot longer. I probably added an extra 20 min or more until the center seemed solidified enough. The butter dots on top made it hard to see if it was cooked on the inside. Do you think I did something wrong?

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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