Who could forget Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as Italian brothers and chefs in Big Night. In preparation for his role as Secondo, Stanley Tucci worked with acclaimed chef Gianni Scappin, honing the skills he already had, as the son of “food-obsessed” Italian immigrants. In The Tucci Cookbook, he pulls together recipes from both of their families, compiling a collection of well-crafted traditional dishes, heartfelt personal histories, and gorgeous food photography. I want to cook this whole book.
I made this plum and polenta cake for a recent dinner party, and it was excellent. If you can’t find plums right now, substitute 6 quartered figs, or 1/2 cup of cherries. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Plum and Polenta Cake
1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp finely ground cornmeal or semolina flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
13 tblsp butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 plums, cut in half and pitted
2 tblsp packed light brown sugar
1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour an 8 x 2-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal (or semolina), all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and blend until just combined.
4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Place the plum halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter (place them along the perimeter, not in the center). Sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes (it took closer to an hour for me).