CakeWhat to CookNew York City

An Easy, Impressive Cake Made Entirely From Bodega Ingredients

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This is part of an ongoing series to celebrate bodegas (and their owners) in New York City—each week, we're highlighting recipes from food writers and chefs made entirely from ingredients purchased in bodegas. Today: Pastry chef Melissa Weller on her local bodega—and the polenta cake she made from it.

Join Us in Celebrating Bodegas (& The People Who Run Them)
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Join Us in Celebrating Bodegas (& The People Who Run Them)

I usually go across the street to Ayman's. That's not the actual name of the bodega, but that's what we call it—it's the first name of the owner, who is Palestinian. Ayman's brother, Omar, is my landlord, and Omar used to own the deli in my building and Ayman used to work there. Now the deli downstairs is owned by Yemenis and it's more of a grill. I remember looking out my window during hurricane Sandy and watching the owners pick up debris, despite the gusting wind.

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I have been buying ingredients at Ayman's for years. They laugh and then happily oblige when I ask for an itemized receipt, and they ask me what I'm making now. These are the people who make my neighborhood and I have known them for a dozen years; they are the kindest people. They know me, my husband, and our son.

Photo by Liz Clayman

Here is a recipe I made from ingredients (literally everything!) that I purchased at Ayman's. It's an easy polenta cake—and I went back across the street to get dried apricots for the compote.

Polenta Cake with Dried Apricot Compote

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Makes one 9-inch cake

For the cake:

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  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (150 grams)
  • 3/4 cup polenta (115 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (10 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (6 grams)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened (113 grams)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
  • Lemon, zested
  • 3 large eggs (150 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 grams)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

For the apricot compote:

  • 1 heaping cup dried apricots (250 grams)
  • 3 oranges
  • 3 tablespoons honey (60 grams)
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Want to get involved? Send your bodega recipe to [email protected]

Tags: bodega cooking, bodega cuisine, bodega polenta cake