Polenta and ricotta cake with dates and pecans

polenta and ricotta cake with dates and pecans

polenta and ricotta cake with dates and pecans

I’ll start by confessing I didn’t make this cake. Technically my husband made it, although, to be fair, he was largely executing orders with me standing over his shoulder. The reason why we made this cake together was that he had promised his colleagues at work he would bring a cake in made with his own fair hands. We had ricotta in the fridge as well as the most gorgeous Palestinians dates. Bingo! I found this recipe on the Delia Smith’s blog.  I wasn’t sure about it at first as it has no eggs in it. Also when it first came out of the oven after the recommended 1 hour and three quarters I thought I had overcooked it. However I needn’t have worried. I really liked it, and so, apparently, did my husband’s colleagues. So success all around. And in truth: how could Delia be wrong? Impossible! This is a cake I’ll definitely make again.


7 oz (200 g) polenta

4 oz (110 g) butter

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

9 oz (250 g) ricotta

6 oz (175 g) chopped dates

2 oz (50 g) pecan nuts, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons Amaretto

7 oz (200 g) self-raising flour

1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 oz (225 g) golden caster sugar


First of all, place the dates in a small bowl, pour the Amaretto over them and leave them to soak for 15 minutes.

Then place the pecans on a baking tray and toast them for 8 minutes – use a timer so they don’t get over-cooked. Now to make the cake, take a large mixing bowl and first sift the polenta, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Keep the sieve held high to give the flour a good airing, then tip the grains from the polenta in to join the rest.

Next, add the caster sugar, ricotta, melted butter and 7 fl oz (200 ml) tepid water, and whisk with an electric hand whisk until everything is thoroughly blended (about 1 minute). After that, fold in the nuts, dates and the liqueur in which they were soaking. Fold everything in thoroughly, spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.

Now scatter the demerara sugar evenly over the surface, then pop the cake into the pre-heated oven on the middle shelf, where it will take between 1 3/4 and 2 hours to cook.

When it’s cooked it will feel springy in the centre when you make a very light depression with your little finger. If it’s not cooked, give it another 10 minutes and then do another test. When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven, allow it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it from the tin and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.


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