I promise. I am good at following instructions. I can usually follow a recipe to the t. So how did a Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake (with Figs) become a combination of Cherry Muffins and Flower? Um. I'm not quite sure.
The first problem was that I didn't have any figs. Sad state of affairs when you're trying to make a recipe that calls for sixteen of them. Sixteen moist, plump Mission figs, to be exact.
Undettered, I forged ahead, planning to swap dried cherries for the figs, and to add some thyme to make up for the ordinariness of the cherries.
By the time I realized I didn't have a 10 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, there was no turning back. So I didn't. What should have been an elegant cake became a very approachable batch of muffins and cookies. Oh, did I mention that I left out the baking powder? The good news? They're terrific. Dorie does it again. In spite of me.
Cherry Muffins and Flowers, adapted from Baking: From my Home to Yours
Makes a dozen muffins and about a dozen small cookies; 30 minutes prep time
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup tepid water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 stick butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cherries
Leaves from one sprig of thyme, optional
Preheat the oven to 350*. Line 12 muffin tins with baking cups and spray a small square pan with Pam.
In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until totally smooth. This will take a few minutes.
Add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and turn up the speed a bit. Beat for another couple of minutes till light.
Add the melted butter and the eggs. Beat for another minute or two, till smooth.
Add the cornmeal, flour and salt. Beat briefly till combined. Stir in the cherries and thyme (if you're using it) by hand.
Spoon most of the batter into the muffin cups. Pour what's left into the baking pan. (You should have just a thin layer.) Bake the cake for about 15 minutes, till firm and golden. Leave the muffins in for about 10 minutes longer (25 minutes total) till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
When the cake is cool, use your favorite cookie cutter to cut pretty shapes. Cool the muffins completely before eating. (These also freeze great!)