Cake for breakfast? Sign me up.

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Hello! December is progressing at a ridiculously fast clip, as it always seems to….

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I’ve been enjoying all the holiday things – spent yesterday at the Dickens Fair to see friends and fave human do some performing; and happened to come upon these hilarious dead rat gingerbread (clearly I need some new cookie cutters…)

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C and I loved this cake! I riffed on my last ricotta cake to see if I could get it to be more like a cheesecake – this one is definitely that. It reminds me most of cornbread crossed with cheesecake, which sounds weird but I swear it’s amazing. It’s light but dense at the same time, but in a way that isn’t heavy. As per usual it’s not very sweet – the chopped apples in the batter bring just the right amount of sweetness.

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Aside from the extra bowl required to beat the egg whites (which I find super fun – it’s my favorite bit of kitchen alchemy), the cake comes together super quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Arguably could be made in the morning for brunch, but it also keeps excellently in the fridge overnight and is almost better cold, in my opinion, making it a great candidate to be made the night before.

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It goes superbly with ice cream for dessert, but is equally amazing sliced in simple wedges for breakfast. Of course we at it alongside eggs & kale – it would be really perfect to feed a holiday morning crowd!

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I am so very tempted to make this again, and soon – it’s definitely a favorite of mine. Luckily, I’m out of ricotta at the moment, so I’ll settle for brunch with a friend. Happy holidays!! Hug your loved ones and bake them things, I promise they’ll be happy!

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Ricotta Polenta Cake with Apples and Pomegranate

I LOVE this cake. Only lightly sweet, it’s somewhere closer to being a cornbread crossed with a cheesecake. The apples bring just the right amount of natural sweetness – it’s perfect for breakfast. Yield: 1 9″ cake. Adapted from my last ricotta cake, here.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 2 meyer lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c almond flour
3/4 c fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1.25 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
a sprinkle of coconut sugar
thinly sliced apples & pomegranate arils for garnish
a bit of chopped crystalized ginger, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches, then fold in chopped apples. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with sliced apples and almonds, if using. Sprinkle with a bit of coconut sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (mine was done closer to 50 min). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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