Recipe: Ricotta Cake with Lemon and Raspberries

Back in August, I went to a cheesemaking workshop at La Latteria, where we made Primo Sale, Bocconcini, and Ricotta cheeses. It was a really fun workshop, which I fully intended to review, but that’s clearly not going to happen now, so let me just say if you have any interest in making Italian cheeses, I can thoroughly recommend this workshop.

The thing is, at the end of the workshop, I found myself with an astonishing amount of ricotta. (We will never know how I wound up with more ricotta than anyone else in my family, despite the fact that we were all following the same recipes…) After using it in pasta and on pizza, I still had more than I knew what to do with, and so I turned to baking.

There is an amazing-looking ricotta cake in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. This is not that cake, but the structure of it borrows heavily from that recipe, and I love it. It is *extremely* simple to make. There’s no separating eggs or creaming butter and sugar or anything like that. It’s just a simple wet-into-dry cake, with a syrup over the top at the end. (You can probably even leave out the syrup, but it does make everything more lemony, and it uses up the juice from the lemons which you zested, so I reckon you ought to keep it.)

And it’s delicious – sharp and tangy from the lemons and meltingly soft from the ricotta, with a lovely fresh bite from the raspberries. This might be my favourite cake to bake at the moment. In fact, if I weren’t writing this blog post at a point when my house was still full of Christmas cookies, I’d be heading right out to buy some lemons and ricotta and raspberries so that I could make some more of it right now…

(Also, I don’t have one single good photo of this cake, because it’s too delicious and I get distracted and eat it.) (I mean, not all of it, but usually I have lots of people willing to help me eat it. Having said that, I am *positive* I took photos of this cake for this blog, but the evidence does seem to suggest otherwise.)

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250 g ricotta
80 ml olive oil
150 g caster sugar + 100 g for the syrup
2 eggs
2 lemons
190 g flour
1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
100 g raspberries

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced, and line a 22cm round tin with baking paper

Mix the ricotta, oil, sugar, eggs, and zest from the two lemons in a bowl until well-combined, then add the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt and mix well.

Fold in the raspberries, transfer to the baking tin, and bake for half an hour, or until the cake is soft but passes the skewer test.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Juice your two lemons, and if necessary, top up with water to 100 ml. Put in a small saucepan with 100 g sugar, and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes.

Let the cake cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Prick all over with a skewer, then pour the syrup gently over the cake, a little at a time, letting it absorb.

Let cool completely before serving.

The only photo I have of this cake, and it’s in the pre-syrup phase. I guarantee you, it tastes a thousand times better than it looks here.

Variations

This cake is nut-free, but obviously contains dairy, gluten and eggs. I expect that it would work quite well if you replaced the flour with gluten-free flour mix, at which point it would also be low in fructose. I don’t know that you could do much do replace the eggs, and replacing the dairy is rather missing the point.

Flavour-wise, the sky is your limit. Blackberry and orange would make a nice autumnal variation; chopped up strawberries to replace the raspberries would be lovely when strawberries are in season. Just-cooked rhubarb would also be great here. You might even leave the berries out entirely and make this a lemon and ricotta cake (or a pink grapefruit and ricotta cake, if you were feeling super sophisticated). This is a pretty forgiving recipe, I think – play with it and see what you like.

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