Saturday, July 09, 2011

Cornmeal and Fig Cake with Pine Nuts

The Altitude Adjustment Section
Figs are delicious as a nibble with goat cheese and aged balsamic, but are equally delish when baked into lovely sweets. Here is a great Italian polenta cake from Venice with figs and other goodies folded into it.

4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup grappa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal; do not use instant)
1/2 cup diced dried figs (about 6)
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon fennel seeds

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Beat egg yolks and sugar in large bowl. Bring milk, grappa, and salt to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan. Whisk in polenta. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 8 minutes.

Fold figs, raisins, pine nuts, and fennel seeds into polenta mixture. Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake cake until golden brown, set in center, and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes. Cut around pan sides and invert cake onto platter. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.