It is the time of year when we have Giant rhubarb coming out of our ears! It is my fault – I planted 6 from seed and am too proud to part with any – unless it is to dig up to give as a gift. I felt like baking, and I thought that rhubarb would be a good substitute for nectarine in the nectarine, polenta and ricotta cake. Personally, I ended up preferring the rhubarb version because its sourness adds an extra depth of flavour.
Giant rhubarb remains green and is quite a bit more sour than regular rhubarb.
When ordering the ricotta, the deli assistant gave me 280 g rather than 250 g. It didn’t make much of a difference, as at the end of the day, it’s the sugar syrup that helps to moisten the cake. You could put in as much as 300 g ricotta depending on how much you have left to use or how you buy it. I have reflected this in the nectarine version as well.
rhubarb, ricotta and polenta cake
150 g salted butter. Roughly chopped.
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup polenta
100 g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
250-300 g ricotta (break /mash up with a fork before adding. It is okay if there are smallish chunks.)
3 heaped tbs natural yoghurt
4-5 stalks of rhubarb. Cut into about 6 cm strips. I have Giant rhubarb and used 3 stalks, but 2 I split length-ways before cutting into strips.
1 cup (230 g) caster sugar
1 cup of water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Cut your fruit as above.
Grease a 20 cm square tin and line with baking paper.
Ground your almonds. Set aside.
Beat sugar, butter and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time. Beat after each one.
In a separate bowl, break up your ricotta with a fork. It is okay if there are smallish chunks.
Fold in polenta, ground almonds, baking powder, ricotta and yoghurt.
Transfer the mixture into the pre-prepared baking tin. Smooth.
Lay fruit on top. Don’t press down as they will naturally sink in slightly while cooking.
Bake for 50-55 minutes.
While the cake is close to being cool, begin to make the sugar syrup. It is most effective if the cake is cool and the sugar syrup is hot.
In a small sauce pan, bring the sugar and water to the boil. Let boil for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Pour the hot syrup over the cool cake. Leave for 10 minutes or so before serving to allow the sugar syrup to be soaked up as much as possible.
Serve with a good drizzle of sugar syrup that wasn’t quite soaked up and natural yoghurt.