Updated: Jun 8
Is it a cheesecake? Is it a cake? Is it a clafoutis?
Frankly - it’s a mix of these three and it’s damn delicious! Soft, delicate, melt-in-your mouth. Luscious mix between Polish cheesecake and Italian Ricotta cake.
Ok, so what do we have here? Mainly soft Ricotta cheese flavoured with lemon zest and cardamom, a little bit of flour, pinch of baking powder, few eggs. This light cake is topped up with seasonal light fruit. We used raspberries, peaches and apricots in this bake but any light, sharp fruit will do (blueberries, cherries, gooseberries, redcurrant). Sprinkle this cake with icing sugar and serve warm or chilled. This cake sets into a delicious cheesecake-like, delicate cake. Refrigerate loosely covered. The cake is enjoyable for 3-4 days (depending on the type of fruit used).
When testing this cake we tried different methods. Processing with minimal amount of air, adding hot liquid and other things. What worked best (flavour wise) was the recipe below - creaming small amount of butter with sugar, then slowly adding egg yolks and creaming in ricotta cheese. Next, flour is added and at the end beaten egg whites are gently folded in. What this gives you, is a beautiful delicate texture and great, zesty flavour. There is one 'but'- this cake will rise and deflate some 1-2cm when cooling. It’s worth the effort though as the texture and flavour pay back.
* Gluten free option - since posting this cake, some of the bakers reached out asking if this cake can be baked gluten free. Yes it can! Use 93g of finely milled almond flour (not almond meal) and GF baking powder.
For a good bake:
- Use all ingredients at room temperature. Ricotta, butter, eggs - all should be at 21C. It takes quite a while to bring Ricotta to room temperature (1-2 hours, or place in warm-ish oven). If Ricotta oozes some juice during the rest - discard the juice before adding to other ingredients. You may opt to place eggs in a bowl full of warm water to bring to room temperature faster.
- Bake with light seasonal fruit. Cherries, blueberries, raspberries, apricots, peaches. Frozen fruit are really not suitable in this bake. Tinned fruit are ok though (juice removed; tinned peaches are gorgeous in this bake).
- Flavour - mix lemon zest and ground cardamom with sugar. Using palms of your hands rub zest into sugar to release more flavour. Part of sugar is used for creaming butter, the other half is used for beating egg whites.
- Baking - by the end of baking the middle should still be a little bit wobbly. The cake should cool with oven door open ajar. It will deflate some 1-2cm during cooling.
- Baking tin - we are using here small 20cm round tin with removable base. If you opt to use 23-26cm round tin - increase ingredients by 30%, extend baking time by 5 minutes only.
Yield: 12 servings
Time: 25 min prep + 50 min baking
Tin: 20cm round tin with removable base
80g unsalted butter, soft but not oily
180g sugar, split 90/90
Zest from 1 lemon
1/3 tsp ground cardamom
500g Ricotta cheese, room temperature
85g all-purpose/plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp coarse salt
Seasonal light fruit. Cherries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, apricots.
We used here:
1 peach, coarsely chopped
2 apricots, coarsely chopped
+ Confectioners’/icing sugar to decorate
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Line the bottom of the tin with parchment paper and brush sides with butter.
Mix flour with baking powder and sift. Set aside.
Prepare Ricotta batter: Mix sugar with lemon zest and cardamom. Using palms of your hands rub zest into sugar to release flavour. Beat soft butter for 1 minute until fluffy. Add 90g of zesty sugar to butter (in 3 turns) and beat until fluffy - about 2-3 minutes. Start adding egg yolks - one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Then start adding Ricotta - 2 Tablespoons at a time - mix well after each addition (paddle attachment, low-medium speed, or handheld mixer - low speed). Add flour - in 2 turns and mix gently (lowest speed) only until combined and no flour pockets remain. Set the mixture aside. In a separate bowl beat egg whites until fluffy (1 minute) then add remaining part of sugar (90g) and beat until firm (2-3 minutes), at the end add coarse salt and beat for few seconds. Fold beaten egg whites into the Ricotta mixture. Pour the batter into the tin, gently place fruit on top (make sure there are some spaces in-between so that the cake has a chance to puff up).
Bake at 180C (160C fan forced) for 50 minutes. When baked, open ajar oven door, let the cake cool for 10 minutes then take out and give the tin a little bang. The cake is going to deflate some 1-2cm when cooling. Run thin knife around the edges to loosen, let it cool for 15-20 minutes, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve. It tastes great when still warm or chilled in the fridge for few hours.