I quickly settled on this light Italian cake, which felt like the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon espresso on a warm fall day. The cake is gluten-free, made from a combination of polenta and almond flour, and uses only honey as a sweetener, so you can cut yourself a big slice without too much guilt. I’ve had hit or miss results with “healthy” cakes, and in particular cakes made with ricotta, but this one was very good. It was moist and not overly crumbly, with a delicate flavor of lemons, almonds, and honey. It’s not very sweet, so while I’m not sure I’d serve it for dessert, it’s the perfect thing for an afternoon break or an indulgent breakfast.
Ricotta and Polenta Almond Cake (Torta di Ricotta e Polenta)
- 1/2 c.(100g) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. clear honey
- finely grated zest of three small lemons
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 c. (5 oz) almond flour, or whole almonds, ground into flour in food processor
- 1 c. (4 1/2 oz) fine ground polenta
- 1 c. (9 oz) ricotta, preferably creamy
- 1/2 c. flaked almonds
- powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the base of an 8 inch springform tin with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the butter, half of the honey, the lemon zest, and the vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until creamy, using an electric mixer if you have one. Add the egg yolks and continue to beat until fully incorporated and creamy. Add the almond flour, polenta, and ricotta and fold everything together using a spatula.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Still beating, drizzle in the remaining honey and continue to beat the egg whites until medium peaks hold and the honey is fully blended in. Gently fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from the tin. Dust with powdered sugar before serving if desired.