Caitlin of Engineer Baker was the lucky gal who got to choose the recipe for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenge, and her choice had me wondering how an engineer's mind works. I mean, polenta with ricotta cheese in a cake? Together? The combination sounded like a high-brow experiment that only the best-of-the-best scientist could execute. Even Dorie admitted that the cake was the result of a whim. To a novice in the kitchen, like myself, this recipe seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen.

But that's the point of joining baking groups such as Tuesdays with Dorie, isn't it? I joined to challenge myself and try new things, like new flavors and mixtures. When I thought about the recipe in this light, I decided to go with it and make the cake. I was really hesitant about this recipe, even when I was walking through the aisles of my local grocery store and looking for the different ingredients. However, I felt that I had to bake this cake, so I got together everything on Sunday evening and went to work.

Ingredients (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup tepid water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup large mixed raisins
Dorie required plump figs in her recipe, but I didn't have any figs nor could I find them at the grocery store, so I went with raisins. They were looking pretty paltry, so I plumped up the little raisins by steeping them in some boiling water. Once they were nice and fat, I strained them and set them off to the side.

Next, in a stand mixer I beat together the water and ricotta cheese until they were smooth. While this went on, I popped the butter into the microwave until it was melted and then set it aside to cool a bit. I went back to my stand mixer and added the sugar, honey, and lemon juice to the water/ricotta cheese combo. Dorie originally asked for grated lemon zest, but I didn't have any lemons in the house. However, I did have a bottle of lemon juice, so I squirted a bit of it into the mixing bowl.

Now I have to say a word or two about the honey because I was pretty excited about this part. A couple of years ago, I spent a semester studying in France. Though I was "studying" abroad, I spent most of my traveling around the country and I happened to visit Aix-en-Provence during one of my weekend escapades. As the name of the city describes, Aix is located the Provence region of France which is known for lavender. So when I came across some lavender honey while shopping through Aix's weekend market, I instantly bought some to bring home to Oklahoma. My family wasn't too crazy about the honey and opted to use generic honey for breakfast toast, so the jar of honey just sat in my pantry for a some time. Then along came this recipe, and now my lavender honey is all gone.

Once the last trace of honey was mixed in, I poured in the melted butter and beat it into the batter. Then I beat in the eggs one at a time. The dry ingredients were added last, and they were stirred into the mixture just until they barely disappeared.

I poured the smooth batter into a 10-inch, fluted, ceramic pie pan that had been sprayed with Baker's Joy baking spray. I stirred in the raisins right before I set the cake into an oven preheated to 325 degrees F. After about 45 minutes of baking, I pulled the cake out of the oven and allowed it to cool on the counter.

I was pretty skeptical about my success with this recipe when the cake first came out of the oven because it was really moist. It was so moist that I could literally press some liquid out of it. Luckily, as the cake cooled, it dried out a little and my family was able to enjoy the first taste of it. My parents and I became big fans of the recipe, but my mom absolutely loved it. She's a big fan of cornbread, so this seemed to be the perfect sweet treat for her. We couldn't taste the lavender, though. The only complaint that we had about the cake was that it was a bit too sweet. I already cut the white sugar content in half, but it was still sweet. I'm wary of completely cutting out the white sugar, so I probably won't be as liberal with the honey next time. Adding less honey might even help with the extreme moisture content. However, this recipe is definitely a keeper and I will be making it again some day.

28 comments:

  1. Sweet and Savory Eats said...

    Great job. It's too bad you couldn't taste the lavender. I saw lavender honey in my grocery store after I made my cake and thought it would have been a nice modification. Ah, well ... you win some, you lose some.  

  2. landa said...

    You did a great job.  

  3. April said...

    Your cake looks great! I am glad that you liked it!  

  4. lovesweetlove said...

    Your top picture is great! I love how the edges got a little darker, looks great!  

  5. Jayne said...

    Wonderful job! Maybe next time I'll get a little adventurous and try lavender honey, or something other than just plain ol' regular honey.  

  6. rebekka said...

    I am so sad I had to opt out this week. It looks delicious. I read a few others that thought it was too sweet also though.  

  7. CB said...

    So glad your mom liked it! Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought  

  8. Amy said...

    Your cake looks great! And the lavender honey, what a nice touch.  

  9. Mevrouw Cupcake said...

    Good on you for stepping outside your comfort zone! Your cake looks lovely and I love that plate! I used all honey and no sugar and was really happy with the outcome. I was excited to read that you were using lavender honey, but too bad, the flavor wasn't present enough. Hope that you'll give it another go sometime.  

  10. Megan said...

    You are so cool! I wish I had done something "out of my zone" but I chickened out!It looks great!  

  11. CRS said...

    It looks great! WTG for challenging yourself.  

  12. Julius said...

    I love how beautiful your cake turned out. :)

    Julius
    from Occasional Baker  

  13. annmartina said...

    Your cake looks great. I'm glad you liked it.  

  14. LyB said...

    Beautiful! I might try it with honey next time as I made it with maple syrup this time. Your cake looks delicious!  

  15. bakingwiththeboys said...

    Too bad you couldn't taste the lavender but it may have improved your cake in a subtle way. Looks great!  

  16. Madam Chow said...

    Your photos are lovely, and I'm so glad your family liked the cake!  

  17. Zakia / The Frosted Bake Shop said...

    im glad you liked it. i didnt get a chance to participate this week, but i think i will still make it.  

  18. Shari said...

    Lavender honey sounds delicious!  

  19. Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

    Looks luscious. One can almost see the honey bubbling.  

  20. Gretchen Noelle said...

    How wonderful that you did enjoy it! Pity that the lavender did not shine thru as you had hoped. Great job nonetheless!  

  21. Marie said...

    Cecilia, your cake looks amazing and I'm well impressed with the recipe below as well. Those zucchini chips look fabulous! Well done! I almost used lavender honey but I only had about 1/4 cup of it left in the jar!  

  22. Cecilia said...

    Thank you all for your sweet comments!

    About the lavender honey...maybe I couldn't taste the lavender because I don't know what lavender is supposed to taste like? Maybe, just maybe...  

  23. Anne said...

    It looks lovely- glad you enjoyed it! I'm with you on "studying" in France- better than studying anywhere else!  

  24. Bumblebutton said...

    How nice you broke into your lavender honey--I have yet to open the little truffles I brought home from Europe one year--I'm afraid I'll 'waste' them. I'm sure it contributed to your cake, even if it wasn't front, center and forward. Nice job!  

  25. Andrea said...

    I thought I was brave using silicone for the pan, but you went the ceramic with no fear! Such a shame you couldn't find the figs. They are pretty common here. But given here is Darwin I am guessing it is a bit far!
    But given it is on your make again list you can keep your eyes open for next time.
    BTW I answered your questions about custard and honey on my blog.  

  26. Rebecca said...

    Oh, you're so lucky your family was game to try this one. Mine's holding out for peanut butter torte. ;)  

  27. Natalie said...

    Oooh, lavender honey would have been so great! I wish I'd had wildflower honey, but we used the last bit in the mead.  

  28. Jaime said...

    love the first photo!