Monday, January 18, 2010

Polenta Pound Cake with Mascarpone and Rosemary

This recipe is straight outta Food and Wine Magazine. I wanted to make it at Christmas, but the family wasn't up for it. Instead I made it for a Golden Globes party this weekend. It rocks just as much as Micheal C Hall finally winning an award.

The Plan
Get Cake in oven.
Make Rosemary Syrup.
Make Mascarpone "Cream".

The Ingredients
For the Cake
1 3/4 cups Cake Flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup Polenta*
Pinch of Salt
2 sticks Butter, softened
1/2 cup Sugar
6 Eggs, room temperature
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Lemon Juice

For the Rosemary Syrup
1/2 cup Honey
3 Tbsp Water
2 Rosemary Sprigs

For the Mascarpone Cream
1 cup Marscarpone, room temperature
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Vanilla Bean, seeds only**

The Method
For the Cake
Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter and Flour a 9x5 metal loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, combine Cake Flour and Polenta. Mix well.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, blend the Butter and Sugar for about 2 minutes. Or until nice and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Yep, it's a pain but trust me, it's worth it to do When you're done with the eggs, add Vanilla and Lemon Juice. Incorporate dry mixture a bit at a time. Beat until just combined. And then resist all temptation and stop stiring. Bake at 325 for about 55 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and let cool on a wire rack.

For the Rosemary Syrup
In a small saucepan, combine the Honey, Water and Rosemary Sprigs. On medium heat, simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring often. Let syrup cool to room temperature. Brush some on the cake when it's still warm. That's it. Keep the rest for later.

For the Mascarpone Cream
Whisk Mascarpone, Heavy Cream, Sugar and Vanilla together until smooth. Taste. I added extra Sugar and Vanilla at this point. I knew the Cake itself wouldn't be overly sweet, so I wanted the Cream to be more flavorful. Use your best judgement.

For Service
Put a slice of cake on a plate. Top with a dollap of Mascarpone Cream. Drizzle with Rosemary Syrup. Yum.

*This drives me crazy in recipes. Polenta is technically cooked coarse cornmeal. So don't go to the store and buy the Polenta in the tube. That's not what you want. Go to the baking aisle and get some cornmeal. I actually got the finer cornmeal because I was afraid the cake would be too dry with the coarse. But the crunchy crust was my favorite part of the cake, so next time I'd go with the coarse.
**I'm cheap. So sometimes it's hard for me to justify spending crazy money on fancy ingredients. I know this probably makes me a sucky chef. But I just used Vanilla Extract. If you want to be more fancy, use Vanilla Paste.

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