Few things make me happier than cooking for other people. Ok, so you moms out there who are fed up with trying to cook for the world’s pickiest eaters who also happen to be your children, might disagree with me. But just try this – think of someone who could use a bit of encouragement. Then make a batch of your favorite cookies, brownies, cake or quick bread, wrap it up in a cellophane bag with a ribbon and tag, or stick it on a paper plate and put it in a ziplock (it’s just going to be unwrapped and eaten anyways) and then give it away to said person. It will blow their mind, make their day, put a little spring in their step and smile on their face. And you’ll feel pretty good too.
Today is giving Tuesday, and just think of the impact we could have if we all gave just a little something today – an hour of our time, a listening ear, a freshly baked cake, or say a microloan to a woman entrepreneur. Many of you know that a few years ago I had the opportunity to live in the Philippines and volunteer with an amazing Christian microfinance organization, because of my volunteer work with PEER Servants. And as an active volunteer, I am giving today to PEER Servants’ #GivingTuesday Razoo fundraiser for CSS in India. They provide microloans to women entrepreneurs in Kolkata, who with a small loan, are providing for their families and creating jobs for others in their community. Here’s the link to learn more:
So listen up! For every person who signs up to follow my blog today, I will donate $1 to CSS India to provide microloans for these deserving women! Spread the word!
Are you saying to yourself, this sounds awesome, but what the heck is a microloan? I have a bunch of posts about microfinance – you’ll learn more than you probably ever wanted to.
But wait, we were talking about cake! Here’s a recipe for the most delicious almond, ricotta and polenta cake. It’s gluten free, which is awesome because everyone is scared of gluten these days (myself included). And you can top it with whatever fruit you have laying around. I happened to have plums that had seen better days, but try it with berries, apples, figs, pears…
Don’t have polenta? Or don’t even know what it is? (it’s the Italian version of grits, BTW.) You can substitute cornmeal, no problem. No need to spend the money on the fancy ultra-fine, blanched almond meal. I use the unblanched almond meal from Trader Joes, which is a great value and the almond skins add a bit of texture and color to the cake.
Recipe: Almond, Ricotta & Polenta Cake (GF)
Makes 1, 9″ cake
5 eggs, separated
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 lemon – juice & zest
1 c ricotta
1 1/2 c almond meal (unblanched or blanched)
1/2 c fine polenta (or cornmeal)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
Plums or other fruit, quartered
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease bottom & sides of a 9” springform pan or regular cake pan if that’s all you have. Line bottom of pan with a circle of parchment paper (to keep the cake from sticking).
With and electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat together both sugars, lemon zest & butter until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. One at a time, add egg yolks to the creamed butter/sugar mixture, beating after each addition. Next, add ricotta, lemon juice & vanilla, and mix until fully incorporated. Add polenta, almond meal & salt, and beat until smooth. In three additions, gently fold egg whites into the batter. Spread into the prepared pan and arrange fruit wedges on top. Sprinkle top of cake and fruit with turbinado sugar.
Bake in center rack of oven for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out basically clean (a few crumbs may cling and that’s fine, you just don’t want to see raw batter.)
Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes until your cake pan has cooled. Remove cake from the pan, return to the wire rack and let it finish cooling completely, about 2 hours. Gently peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, transfer to a plate, wrap it up in plastic, and give it away!!
This recipe can be doubled, in case you want to give one and keep one, which I highly recommend!