A Tuesdays with Dorie event
First off, thanks to Caitlin of Engineer Baker for this selection. The recipe can be viewed on her blog.
While improvisation is anathema to bakers who for the most part rely on precision, this week's Tuesdays with Dorie is a product of Ms Greenspan's wholesale and impromptu rejigging of a magazine recipe. And the outcome is perfect.
The recipe has two uncommon ingredients for cakes. Ricotta, which is the whey by-product of Romano cheese making, and polenta, the Italian name for cornmeal. Ms Greenspan was incredibly astute to have added butter thus avoiding a dry cake which the combination of ricotta and polenta would presumably produce.
In the same intrepid spirit that produced this recipe, I made some improvisations of my own. Plumped and Limoncello-flambéed raisins were substituted for figs, which I adore but Patrick loathes. Moreover, while Ms Greenspan used melted butter, I opted to use the fat in its softened state and employ the two-stage mixing method. The result is a luxurious and thick batter:
Butter coats flour to prevent gluten from forming, thus helping create a tender cake. When melted, it distributes evenly but does not form the air pockets that softened butter makes when creamed. Baked goods using melted butter tend to be more dense. I wanted a lighter cake so I leaned toward using butter as a soft solid. The two-stage mixing method also aids this aim.
April 25th is the day that Patrick and I met and this was the cake we celebrated with. It is just right for the event: understated yet special, homey and warm through and through. It has all the symbolisms of a rich relationship, what with that sweet honey, the sultry golden crumb of polenta and the longevity that the wine-steeped dried grapes portend.
When I presented this to him, his immediate reaction was, "What, where's the chocolate?!"
One bite, and there were no more doubts.
While I usually write down all that I've learned at the end of my posts, today I would like to take a personal turn to honour another person close to my heart.
Five years ago on April 27, I lost my only sibling to leukemia. She was seventeen.
What can I say... cancer's a bitch.
I wasn't a baker when she was around, although we did try to bake a few times and produced puck-hard chocolate chip cookies, which we relished anyway.
There is not one thing that I have baked and blogged about that I had not thought of sharing with her if she were still around.
Elisa, I miss you so much.