Monday, July 30, 2012

Citrus Polenta Cake





Polenta is one of my favorite ingredients mostly used in savory dishes. Each time a recipe calls for polenta, I am all ears (and eyes too). A few weeks ago I made  Zaletti, polenta cookies. 
For my birthday I made this cake, and it quickly won our hearts: I made it three times since...


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Citrus Polenta Cake 
(adapted from the book Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma)


Ingredients (my changes are marked in red):


1 1/2  cup all-purpose flour (unbleached)
1 lemon (zest and juice)
1 lime
1 orange (zest and juice)
3/4 cup instant or fine polenta
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil




Preheat the oven to 325F.
Grease the 9 inch spring form pan with butter and dust with flour.
Grate the zest from the lemon and orange (and the lime, if using).
Combine together flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk together eggs and sugar until they are pale yellow and more than doubled in size. 
Add citrus zest. I also added a juice of a whole lemon.
Add dry ingredients in small batches alternating with olive oil: one third of dry ingredients followed by half the oil, then add another part of dry ingredients, then olive oil, and finish with adding last part of dry ingredients and beat only until each addition is mixed. 
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top.
Bake the cake 25-30 minutes.
Test the cake by inserting a wooden stick (I use a bamboo skewer) comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely.

Filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 cup berries (use your favorite)

In a stand mixer whisk all ingredients for 2-3 minutes. 
Brush the cake with the orange juice (more juice will make cake more moist, so you decide how much of it to apply).
Cover the cake with the filling, and decorate with your favorite berries.



Please, noteto make two layered cake as the one on the photo double the ingredients and bake two cakes.

*** 

I love the sunny color and the citrus taste of this cake. Because I am not a sweet eater, I always reduce sugar to 1-2 tablespoon from what the original recipe calls, and even then sometimes it is too sweet for me. 
To bring down the sweetness, I dress my cakes with fruits and berries. 

What is it about sweets and me, you may ask? I don't like sweets, just like that, plain and simple. I guess, the part of the brain, responsible for enjoying all things sweet, wasn't born, or developed... :)
I haven't eaten sweets for about 20 years, from when I was 3 years old. Nothing, no candies, no ice cream, no cakes, no chocolate. I hated all that stuff, and it was a torture when during my school years at some party I was given a  slice of cake to try. 
My very first sweet bite was when I was at the university, during the summer exams. That day I had a  four hours long written exam, and was walking back home, all brain tired, heat exhausted, and hungry. 
As I was walking by a candy store my head suddenly started to spin from the smell of... chocolate? candy?.. . My feet brought me inside without my approval, but I was happy to be there and I bought four chocolate bars! 
I wasn't much of the thinker after my exam, so everything happened on autopilot: I kept walking the streets while eating the chocolate bar. I was shoveling that chocolate into my mouth (I thought), having an unusual pleasant sensation in my brain... 

My mother met me at the door when I came home, concerned about my exam. I dropped myself on the couch, lifted my daughter up (yes, my friends, marriage, kids, work and university all happened at the same time), and told my mother all details she was so interested about my exam, completely forgetting about the chocolate. 
My then little daughter, unlike her mother, loved all things sweet (and still does). She didn't hesitate to unwrap what was left on the kitchen table: all four chocolate bars (apparently, what I thought of shoveling was a very modest nibbling) and  covered herself, some walls and furniture in a cute chocolate "mask". 
My mother couldn't believe my story that I bought that chocolate for myself, and I had to make another bite (pea size though) to prove that I "started" to eat sweets. We had such a blissful time talking about all things "sweet" while: me - cleaning my child from the chocolate, and my mother - cleaning her grand-daughter's chocolate "art" from the walls and furniture... 


Another twenty years later, and I still don't like sweets... 
But I make it for other's to enjoy... :)

See you,
Marina

64 comments:

  1. Yum! I love you beautiful cake Marina. It looks so good... plus the presentation is so stunning!

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    1. Oops, I hit a wrong key... Thanks Kim for your comment! :)

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  2. Marina,I loved your story about eating sweets! Everyone is different aren't they? I can't live without them! :P

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    1. Yes, Lorraine, most of the people are different, your way though... :) I haven't met that many people who don't eat sweets because they don't like it. After I finished writing this post I had to have something savory and pickled...:)

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  3. one of my sons never really got into sweets either--as a young boy he would much rather have a salad than candy---this cake looks beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Lynn. I am with your son: I would rather have a tomato salad - tomatoes are my "candy"! :)

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  4. Fruits especially berries make everything tastes good. I baked a quite similar birthday cake for my husband using berries and soft ricotta cheese but without polenta. He is also not a sweet eater and even I always reduce the sugar from what ever the original recipe asks.
    I have to try this polenta cake.

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    1. Thanks Balvinder! Let me know if you try this cake, although it is not gluten free.

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  5. This cake looks so good! I will have to make it one day!
    I go back and forth between liking something sweet for a few months, and then not eating anything sweet...sometimes for a year. Right now I still have a big sweet tooth.

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    1. I found this cake easy to make. And the third time I made it, I didn't add any sugar to the cake, only a tablespoon of agave nectar to a filling. It was perfectly enough for me, and my men liked it too. :)

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  6. I do like sweets - and wish I didn't. Too easy to overeat. But we often reduce sugar in recipes, like you, because we also find too many that are over-sweet (although in some that's rather nice). Nice story about your exams, mother, daughter, and chocolate. I used to hate those long, long finals. Good read - thank you.

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    1. Hi John, I don't know anyone who didn't hate those long finals... Even professors were not too happy about it. My husband had to take a test for his license, and it was two days long! Oh well, sometimes you just do what you have to, right? Thanks for commenting. Have a great week! :)

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  7. I never would think to use polenta in a cake. That cake looks so so good. I love sweets!

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    1. That's normal as most people love sweets! :) Thanks for coming! :)

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  8. A polenta cake...with lemon and orange!? Yes, please! :D

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    1. Big piece or small? I guess big, right! :)

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  9. I love the sound of this cake, I'm a citrus freak!

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    1. Me too, I add citrus zest to everything... :) Thanks for coming...

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  10. I think I got your sweet gene so there weren't any left when you passed through. :)

    Love this cake!

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  11. looks divine!! I love polenta and this cake is made to perfection. Beautiful and very very nice. Brava!

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    1. I think I had my share of sweets for a very long time, so next time I make savory polenta dish...:)

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  12. And finally comes the recipe. Yuuuuupi. I'm bookmarking this recipe and I am sooo going to bake this lovely cake very soon :-)

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    1. Let me know how it came out, Joanna! :)

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  13. Happy birthday. This is my kind of cake - I love citrus flavours! Thanks for sharing your recipe.

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    1. Thank you! Well, this is not my recipe I shell say, I adapted it from the book. Changes to the recipe are mine indeed... :)

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  14. Like you idea of reducing the amount of sugar called for in the original recipe. I too prefer a less sweet cake and pastries.

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    1. Hi Norma, the original recipe called for another cup of powdered sugar! That's too much even to think of! :)

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  15. Happy Birthday Marina. This cake sounds wonderful and I like that addition of polenta. I see you cut way back on the sugar and I bet it still tasted great. It really looks tasty. I'd make it two layers also just to get extra of that dreamy filling, LOL.

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    1. Thank you Suzi! Filing is light and very easy to make. Agave nectar has lovely flavor, much more interesting than sugar... :)

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  16. Happy Birthday Marina. Great story and although I love desserts I too love them not quite sweet. When I do moderation its with sugar as well. I love savoury polenta as well. : )

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    1. Thank you Vanessa! I prefer savory polenta myself. Next time I make this cake I will make a few adjustments, I think it will taste great! :)

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  17. I'm not a big sweet eater either! This looks delish and right down my ally. I love polenta very much too.

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  18. Great story, Marina! Torture to eat cake huh... I do try to limit my sugar, but I do like it! Looks delicious, as always! :)

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    1. Hehehe, how different are people?! Thanks Jane for coming... :)

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  19. I thought I'd like the cake just by its title. Seeing the pictures really won me over. This is my kind of birthday cake!

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    1. Thank you John! Polenta adds quite an interesting flavor to this cake. :)

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  20. Fantastic looking cake Marina. Sandwiched together with the fruit there, well, it's just picture perfect! Incidentally, it's strange what you say... it's true... everyone's different. Everyone I know seems to love candies, like things like gummy bear things, red shoelaces, liquorice etc... Yuck, is all I can say. The only kind of "candy" I'll eat is good chocolate.

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    1. I don't even know half of those candies you named. I guess I just never pay attention to it when shopping. My "candies" are berries and fruits, and tomatoes... :)

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  21. The berries in the polenta cake sure adds that extra tang and kick. Looks super light too.. Will want to explore making polenta. Thanks for sharing! Cheers, Jo

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    1. Thank you! I anjoy polenta mostly in savory dishes, but have to admit: this cake was good! I just need to cut even more on sugar (to make it to my liking) :)

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  22. You're like me, when I find a really good recipe I make it a few times i a row! This looks amazing, I use polenta in savory recipes but not much for sweets - I will have to try this!

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    1. Thank you Chris! I too use polenta in savory dishes, and love it. So when I saw cookies and cake made with polenta, I was intrigued. I am glad I tried, it a light and great dessert... :)

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  23. A new idea for me! Your cake is gorgeous with the berries...and I must try polenta as an ingredient now in something other than a savory recipe :)

    PS...I try to post on M, W, F each week...but events like Tuesdays with Dorie and #SundaySupper shake things up a bit with extra posts. WAY too confusing...I know! Have a great day~

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    1. Thanks Lizzy. Although I love polenta in savory dishes, I enjoyed this cake: light and bright... :)

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  24. This sounds so good. I am yet to try polenta in baking but will have to try it!

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    1. I found it interesting in baked goods, it gives such a great texture and taste. Also make it a pretty color too... :)

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  25. I love baking with polenta so this cake looks extra delicious :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Thanks Uru! I'll be looking for recipes on your blog... :)

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  26. Happy birthday Marina! The cake looks amazing!

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  27. I love polenta in cakes and yours is gorgeous! perfectly wonderful cake for the summer. The filling is wonderful!:)

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    1. Thank you Lora!I love polenta but just started to use it in desserts and I have to admit it is delicious and light. My next sweet project has polenta in it too. :)

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  28. Wow, I can't believe I'm commenting, right after my daughter...(cake duchess)
    Marina, sorry, that I totally missed this beautiful polenta cake with the fresh berries. I love, love polenta cakes, and your take on it with the luscious cream, and the berries is awesome, and very delicious!
    Love your creative photos...so lovely:D

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    1. Hi Elisabeth, I can't believe it either! I am so glad both of you came here! Thanks for your comments, they always make me feel warm... :)

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  29. LOVE the new polenta cake - it's so pretty, like a Victoria sponge.

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  30. I am on the diet now, so I am so jealous about the cake. Looks so tasty and moist. Yummy-))

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    1. This cake is very light, and you can use more polenta instead of wheat flour. I can give you my piece, you know I don't like sweets! :)

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