Cast Iron

Rustic Polenta Cake with Ricotta and Prune Filling

March 15, 2010
2 Ratings
  • Serves 8-10 slices
Author Notes

I like the idea of a polenta cake and it just so happens I was making Danishes the other day and filling them with a cheese and prune filling. I don't think polenta cakes are a stretch and have seen a few Italian recipes for them. I also think prunes and ricotta are a great combination. This cake is by no means sugary sweet. I call it an afternoon cake, something you might eat about 3 o'clock with a cup of expresso or Nocello, the Italian walnut liqueur. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • For the ricotta prune filling:
  • 1 1/3 cups ricotta, set in a strainer to drain
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup prunes, soft and pliable
  • For the polenta cake
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups stone ground cornemeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup stone ground cornmeal
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine the drained ricotta and butter and mix until blended. Add the flour, egg and sugar and mix to combine. Fold in the prunes and set aside.
  2. Place the 4 tablespoons of butter into a 10 inch cast iron skillet. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl add the cornmeal, salt, baking soda, baking powder, zest and sugar. Stir with a whisk.
  4. Add the milk and egg and whisk to combine. Set aside. This allows the cornmeal to hydrate.
  5. Place the skillet with the butter in the oven and set a timer for 12 minutes. While you are waiting, in a small mixing bowl combine the remaing 1/3 cup of cornmeal, with the walnuts and butter and combine using your fingers to make a streusel.
  6. When the timer goes off remove the skillet from the oven. Remember the handle will be smoking hot. Carefully pour in the cornmeal batter, it will start cooking immediately. Using a spoon or scoop carefully drop dollops of ricotta prune mixture over the top of the cornmeal batter. Now sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top. Using a towel or oven mit, the handle is still hot, place the skillet back into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, covered with a towel, for 15 minutes. Serve with expresso or Nocello.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lynn Wainess
    Lynn Wainess
  • Daniella Price González
    Daniella Price González
  • kumalavula
  • thirschfeld
  • mrslarkin

15 Reviews

Lynn W. December 27, 2015
Update: the cake is dry and can use some work. I really love the idea of corn meal, ricotta and prunes. Maybe some butter in the cake batter would make it richer, more moist and give the crust kore of a crunch.
Lynn W. December 27, 2015
I liked this cake. However, I have a few suggestions to improve: first, if needs more info regarding straining the ricotta. When I checked on line, all sites said that you should strain tricot a for 8 hours. Since I was serving the cake for dinner and it was 5 pm, I doubles some cheese cloth and squeezed the liquid out. Second, not sure food52 does this but it needs to be edited. There is a space before teaspoons of baking powder. Thirschfeld comments below that it takes 1 tsp but the recipe says teaspoons before the blank and it needs to be updated/edited. Lastly I would cut the prunes in half. One whole prune and cake is a bit much fbut r one bite. Overall, I love the crunch of corn meal and the not very sweet overall taste of the cake. I would make this again.
Maria E. April 30, 2015
Ok...wouldn't make again. I agree...the prune ricotta part was the moistest and tastier part .
pvanhagenlcsw April 5, 2014
This was extremely disappointing. I so wanted to love it. I followed the recipe as written and except for the ricotta and prune custard it was very dry; it was as though there was nothing to hold it togther. Any thoughts?
Daniella P. September 24, 2013
do u mean the de-hydrated sticky sweet prunes or the plump fresh fruit? Can you use both?
kumalavula January 8, 2012
happened to have everything this called for in the cupboard so this was the sunday afternoon cooking adventure for the week. try something new and what do you get? something you fall in love with! nice mix of flavors and textures without being heavy on the flour like most baked desserts.
i really liked this and will make it again, maybe substituting different dried fruit?
thirschfeld March 20, 2010
Amount of baking powder it should be 1 teaspoon.
mrslarkin March 20, 2010
I love the cornmeal streusel on this! (and everything else about this recipe.)
EmilyNunn March 18, 2010
Okay, this looks amazing, I'm making it as soon as I finish my risotto recipe. Prunes are so underused!
chez L. March 15, 2010
sounds great..
shayma March 15, 2010
loves it!
dymnyno March 15, 2010
This sounds like the kind of cake that nothern Italians like...simple. a little crumbly...not frosted , for dessert. Nocino is perfect for a little apertif. (see my recipe)
thirschfeld March 15, 2010
you can bet I was already looking at the Nocino recipe and thought the same thing.
gluttonforlife March 15, 2010
This looks great, especially for us gluten-free eaters. Can't wait to give it a try!
thirschfeld March 15, 2010
You can even take out the flour and add a yolk to thicken the ricotta.