A typically simple farm dessert, this polenta based cake is a cross between a pudding cake and a soufflé. Look for semolina flour next to the flour and sugar in the supermarket. And don't worry about testing this cake for doneness. Instead, trust the time and temperature so you don't overcook it. If you insert a toothpick into the cake, the center will always be soft.
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon semolina flour (pasta flour)
Dash of salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
How to Make It
Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, and cook until sugar is golden (about 5 minutes). Immediately pour sugar syrup into a 1 1/2-quart soufflé dish coated with cooking spray, tipping quickly until caramelized sugar coats bottom of dish; set aside.
Combine milk and 1/2 cup sugar in a large heavy saucepan; stir well. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to milk mixture. Cook over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat (add extract at this point if using in place of vanilla bean); cover and let stand 10 minutes. Discard bean.
Preheat oven to 375°.
Place milk mixture over medium heat. Gradually add flour and salt, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 12 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Gradually add hot milk mixture to eggs, stirring constantly with a whisk; stir in nutmeg. Spoon mixture into prepared dish.
Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until puffy and almost set. (Cake will be slightly "jiggly" in center.) Cool in dish 5 minutes. (Cake will deflate slightly upon standing.) Loosen cake from sides of dish using a narrow metal spatula. Place a plate upside down on top of cake; invert on to plate. Serve warm or chilled.