Warm citrus polenta cake with sweet and delicious fig caramel sauce topping is simple and elegant dessert. Each decadent bite is packed with fresh citrus, and fig flavors in an olive oil cornmeal cake base.
When I visit my favorite local farmer’s market in Orange, I always leave feeling inspired to create recipes with seasonal ingredients. This recent trip was especially memorable because I took baby James with me. I could tell he was in awe of all of the different fruits and vegetables, colors, shapes and buzz around the market, having a shopping buddy there was a special treat.
I almost always want to take a little of everything home, but I particularly had my eye on snagging some gorgeous figs. I already had a vision of baking the jewel-shaped fruit into a delicious citrus polenta cake with a creamy fig caramel sauce to drizzle on top. The perfect combination of sweet, savory and fresh into one golden brown dessert.
Figs to me are mysterious and lovely. The most common are the dark purple skinned mission figs, but I discovered the most intriguing tiger figs at the market. The tiger figs have a bright yellow skin with green stripes, pretty neat! I couldn’t resist but get a little of both, for a little taste testing.
When you slice open a fig, it’s like a compact, cute little surprise! The center is a dark ruby red with tiny seeds that give it an interesting texture. Figs aren’t for everyone, but I happen to give them a big thumbs up. I found that the tiger figs are little sweeter, yet the mission figs have a deeper more caramel-like flavor that I prefer. I couldn’t wait to get these into the cake and caramel!
I decided to add slices of tiger figs around the perimeter of the cake for subtle, simple and lovely design. You could add more to the top, to give the effect similar to a pineapple upside-down cake, but I like having that shiny golden surface from the polenta cake peeking through.
Ciao Bella! Fig caramel sauce, is to die for, period. You start off by making caramel with sugar and water, and as the sugars transform to an amber caramel, the fresh pureed fig is added. What you get is an incredible pourable, rich and decadent jammy sauce.
You will likely have some leftover, so make sure to drizzle this on everything, waffles, pancakes, ice cream, whatever! Once you master the caramel technique, you could add any fruit you like. It’s like making a quick jam in minutes, you must try this at least once, you won’t be sorry.
The polenta cake base is an Italian-inspired combination of cornmeal, olive oil, yogurt and fresh lemon and orange zest and juice. The citrus makes the flavors pop and keeps it light since the polenta in the cake can be a little dense. I decided to use Cup4Cup gluten free flour; it’s a great alternative, and you would never know that the wheat flour was replaced! The cake was crisp around the edges with a dense yet tender center.
The citrus polenta cake and decadent fig caramel sauce are a match made in heaven. A little bit of whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream is also an excellent addition, why not? This cake is packed with different flavors and textures, making each bite a fig lovers dream. If you’re not a fig advocate like me, any fruit like ripe peaches, plums, raspberries or blackberries would also be lovely.
What is the difference between Polenta and Cornmeal?
Cornmeal can come in various colors. From blue, white or yellow dried corn kernels that have been ground into either fine, medium or course meal. If not labeled, it is common to get medium-grind. Polenta is typically made from coarse ground yellow corn kernels. It is traditionally made into a porridge, like an Italian style grits usually served with other savory ingredients. Course ground cornmeal or polenta is used in this recipe to provide extra texture and a slight crunch with each bite. You can use medium-ground cornmeal instead, the texture will be more similar to cornbread and is still delicious. (Source: the kitchn)