I’m heading home in five minutes (really! the car’s on its way) to attend my brother’s wedding this weekend in Boca Raton, Florida. You were there when my brother got engaged (remember?) and now the wedding’s finally here and we’re all pretty excited. But I didn’t want to leave you without anything to cook this weekend: so here you go, a cake that matches this beautiful weather and this beautiful occasion. It’s a citrus polenta cake from Gina DePalma’s “Dolce Italiano” and it’s a bright, zingy cake that’ll put a big smile on your face. I haven’t met Gina yet–she’s the James Beard award winning pastry chef at Babbo–but our books sit together on a shelf at my favorite coffee shop, Joe The Art of Coffee. Gina, as some of you might know, is currently battling cancer; so make this cake in her honor and send good cake karma her way. And in the meantime, I’ve gotta go! Have a great weekend and happy baking.
Citrus-Glazed Polenta cake
(torta di polenta con agrumi)
recipe by Gina Depalma
from “Dolce Italiano: Desserts From The Babbo Kitchen”
1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
3/4 cup instant or fine polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 F and position a rack in the center. Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter or nonstick cooking spray, dust the pan with flour, and tap to knock out the excess. Grate the zest from the lemon, lime, and orange, setting the zests aside for the cake batter and reserving the fruit for the glaze.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until they are pale yellow and have tripled in volume, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the reserved citrus zests.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the olive oil to the egg mixture; begin with one third of the dry ingredients, then add half the oil, followed by another third of the dry ingredients, beating only until each addition is incorporated. Stop the mixer and briefly scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining olive oil, followed by the last third of the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating it 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it springs back lightly when touched and pulls away from the sides of the pan, and when a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 12 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan and allow the cake to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the glaze: Sift 2 cups confectioners’ sugar into a large bowl. Squeeze 1 Tbs of juice from each of the reserved citrus fruits. Add the citrus juices to the bowl and whisk until smooth. If the glaze seems too thick, add a few drops of water until it falls easily from a spoon. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and allow it to set until it is completely dry.
Carefully remove the bottom of the springform pan with an offset spatula and transfer the cake to a serving plate. If desired, dust the cake with additional confectioners’ sugar before serving. Any leftover cake may be wrapped in plastic and served the following day.