Polenta and Ricotta Cake with Dates and Pecans
This is a very unusual cake, quite different in flavour and texture from anything else.
It's Italian in origin and polenta (cornmeal) gives it a sandy texture, while at the same time ricotta cheese and Amaretto liqueur give a wonderful moistness. It also freezes very well, but as you won't have any left over you might as well make two - it's so dead easy!
This recipe is from The Delia Collection: Baking. Serves 8-10
First of all, place the dates in a small bowl, pour the Amaretto over them and leave them to soak for 15 minutes.
Then place the pecans on a baking tray and toast them for 8 minutes - use a timer so they don't get over-cooked. Now to make the cake, take a large mixing bowl and first sift the polenta, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Keep the sieve held high to give the flour a good airing, then tip the grains from the polenta in to join the rest.
Next, add the caster sugar, ricotta, melted butter and 7 fl oz (200 ml) tepid water, and whisk with an electric hand whisk until everything is thoroughly blended (about 1 minute). After that, fold in the nuts, dates and the liqueur in which they were soaking. Fold everything in thoroughly, spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
Now scatter the demerara sugar evenly over the surface, then pop the cake into the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf, where it will take between 13/4 and 2 hours to cook.
When it's cooked it will feel springy in the centre when you make a very light depression with your little finger. If it's not cooked, give it another 10 minutes and then do another test. When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it from the tin and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3, 325F (170C).