Monday, July 23, 2012

Pineapple Polenta Cake

I have made a few recipes with pineapple.  However, I have always used canned and as we all know, fresh cut pineapple is more flavorful and juicy. So, after seeing fresh pineapple at the grocers, I could not resist buying some.

I am still perusing through Johnny Iuzzini's cookbook and I came across a recipe for pineapple-polenta cakes.  I do like the standard cake base for pineapple upside-down cake, but this recipe was a delicious step outside the box. The texture of the polenta cake made a great foundation for the juicy chunks of pineapple and was a smart choice for making individual cakes.

The best bite in this cake is when you get all three components: juicy pineapple, sweet polenta and a caramel topping.  I made sure that my pineapple pieces were nice and thick, so it would be evident in every bite.  Also, to really get the most out of this dessert, serve it warm.

This recipe requires four 3 1/4 inch or ten 2 1/4 inch rings.

Pineapple Polenta Cake
adapted from Dessert Fourplay

Ingredients/Fruit Layer
1/2 ripe pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs water
pinch of salt

1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbs yellow cornmeal
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup flour
4 tbs or 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
2 large egg yolks
7 tbs sugar

Prepare the ring molds by covering the bottom with foil and wrapping up around the outside edges, so you have a little cake pan.  Place foil side down on baking sheet.  Set aside.

For the fruit layer, cut 1/2 pineapple into quarters vertically.  Then take each quarter and cut into 8 pieces and place in bowl.

Take a saucepan fill with sugar and water.  Place over high heat.  Let the sugar melt and cook until it starts to turn color.  Remove and swirl the pan so the sugar will brown even and place back on burner.  Continue with this process until the sugar mixture is a dark amber.  Remove from heat and fill one mold with about 1 1/2 tbs of sugar mixture for large and 2 tsp for small.  Lift and tilt mold so that all the sugar mixture evenly coats the bottom foil from edge to edge. Repeat the process so that all of the molds are bottom lined with the sugar mixture.

For the small molds, place one piece of pineapple on top of the sugar layer.  For the larger, use two pieces of pineapple. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the cake batter, cream together the sugar and butter with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle. Mixture should be fluffy.  Scrape down sides and add one egg.  Beat for 30 seconds and scrape down sides.  Add one egg yolk and beat for another 30 seconds.  Then add the last egg yolk and beat until well blended.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt.  Pour into the wet batter and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until no dry streaks remain.  Take a small zip loc back and snip the corner.  Fill bag with batter and pipe between and over pineapple pieces in mold.  Then for larger molds add two more pieces of pineapple and smaller add one.  Then cover this layer with the batter as well.

Then pipe another layer of batter, smoothing out tops, molds should be 3/4 full.  Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes for the small cakes and 10 for the large.  Make sure the pan is rotated at the halfway point.  The cakes are done when a tester comes out clean.   Let cool for about 1 minute.

Remove from oven and run a knife around the inner edge of the mold.  Ivert mold onto serving plate and remove the foil and then remove the ring mold.  Then serve.

Tips and Notes
1. I used such big chunks of  pineapple that I needed an additional 1/2 recipe of the batter to fill mold and cover pineapple chunks.
2. Do not lift ring off of cake without taking off the foil, it will cause you to pull caramel as well as pineapple pieces off the cake.
3. I used a fork to help when peeling off the foil to make sure the topping came off the foil
4. Due to using more batter in my molds, the cakes took about 20 minutes to bake for 3 1/4 inch molds.
5. I made sure that the pineapple pieces were not stacked one on top of each other.  My first layer had two pieces placed vertically and the second had two pieces placed horizontally.
                            **LAST YEAR: Sunshine Grove Cookies**