Every month I read how hard it is to judge the Paper Chefchallenge and I think, okay, that’s being polite. Well, it’s true. This was really hard! So in honor of all of the entrants, I made you a really tasty cake (story and recipe below) using the challenge ingredients honey, ricotta, dill and eggs.
I also cooked my way through many of the entries, since I was shut in again in monsoon-like conditions. The whipping wind and pelting rain were what I imagine it would be like inside a dishwasher. Our local mini-hurricane produced water in similar proportions to Spikey Mikey’s disaster in Melbourne, but at the polar opposite geographically. Bravo to that adventure and a delicious result! (Check his photos OMG. The power outages and water bailing explain my lateness with this post.) I liked the suggestion that smoked salmon would be a good complement, and obviously Pauline (see paper Chef) would agree, given the addition of salmon to her beautiful quiche. We also had a late entry from Kim of Live Love Laugh Eat, who made scones with honey, ricotta and dill.
All the recipes were great, so I started thinking about why we (or I at least) enjoy reading people’s blogs. I love to learn what’s behind the recipes, the stories, and I love to learn new things. Bill’s Brew-B-Que taught us about gruit, a hop-less ale, and its history in addition to giving us a new marinade. We made his pork chops for dinner and they were delicious. Kizzy’s Culinary Annotations is a treasure trove of interesting historical information and I enjoyed the Hungarian translations.
The prize for presentation would have to go to Cath of ShowFoodChef for the stunning baked eggs in sweet potato petals, which I made for lunch along with the deviled egg over a honey-dark chocolate sauce by Alessio at Recipe Taster. I’m so glad you found Paper Chef. That sauce is amazing and even though I halved the recipe, I have a lot to use for another dish.
But of all of the stories, the one that grabbed me was Adele’s from Will Work for Biltong. (This month has been a good one for building vocabulary.) While the recipe was almost identical to Spikey Mikey’s (is this a Melbourne thing?), the story was wonderful, especially the realization of the joy of gathering the family for a meal. Our family always ate breakfast together on weekends before the children scattered, and we typically ate pancakes. So Adele’s ricotta, dill and honey crumpets, in addition to being delicious (we had them for breakfast), were a reminder of those happy family days.
So, Will Work for Biltong is the winner of Paper Chef 50. I’m delighted to pass the spatula and will definitely keep the recipe.
Here’s a thank you to everyone who participated or just tagged along.
Honey Ricotta Cake with Dill (adapted from Dorie Greenspan)
I was paging through that wonderful volume Baking from my Home to Yours to find a cake that I could adapt for my wheat-free birthday girl, and I came across the perfect candidate: “Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake.” I substituted grated orange for lemon and added dill seed, which imparted a complementary flavor to the cornmeal. I had some figs from a Paper Chef adventure I didn’t submit, so it’s only fair that I share it now.
About 16 moist, plump Mission Figs, stemmed
1 cup medium- or fine-grained polenta or yellow cormneal
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp dill seed
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup tepid water
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup honey
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a similar sized spring form pan, and place it on a baking sheet.
Check that the figs are moist and plump and if not, toss them in a small pan of boiled water and let them steep for a minute and drain. If larger than a bit, snip them into smaller pieces, about ½ inch.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, salt and dill seed together.
With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey and orange zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs, Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan.
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