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...
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 orange (zest and juice)
3/4 cup instant or fine polenta
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
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.
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, note: to 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... :)