Ricotta cake

Ricotta cake

By
From
Sicily
Serves
8

This triumphant cake is based on the colourful iced cassata cakes you see all over Sicily, only it is a much lighter version that is not difficult to make. There is an expression in Sicilian dialect, ‘You are as beautiful as a cassata’ – how romantic to be likened to a cake! If you can find potato flour, do use it as it will make the sponge lighter; if not, use cornflour. You can find potato flour in Asian shops or Italian delis. If you can get hold of sheep’s ricotta all the better, for these cakes are traditionally made with ewe’s milk, which has a pleasant, tangy taste.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the sponge

Quantity Ingredient
5 eggs, separated
pinch salt
150g caster sugar
75g potato flour or cornflour
75g ‘00’ flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 lemon, finely grated zest

For the syrup

Quantity Ingredient
75ml marsala
25ml water

For the filling

Quantity Ingredient
750g ricotta
150g caster sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated
6 tablespoons marsala
25g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

For the coating

Quantity Ingredient
100ml whipping cream
250g ricotta
1 tablespoon runny honey or caster sugar, to taste
200g toasted flaked almonds or hazelnuts or pistachios
25g coarsely grated dark chocolate
25g icing sugar
butter, for greasing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease and flour a 23 cm cake tin. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks in a spotlessly clean bowl with a pinch of salt. Slowly pour in 100 g of the sugar while whisking. Mix the yolks with the remaining sugar in another bowl until pale and creamy, then use a spatula to fold the two together. Sift in the two flours, add the lemon zest and fold them in. Pour into the prepared tin and cook for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre. When cooked, remove from the tin and allow to cool on a rack. Meanwhile, make the filling by draining the ricotta and mixing the ingredients, except for the chocolate, together in a bowl.
  2. Carefully cut a 1 cm thick disc from the top of the cake and set aside. Next cut a 2 cm disc, leaving you with a final one of 1 cm . Lay one of the shallower discs back in the tin with the outside surface downwards. Next cut a circle from the thicker disc so that you are left with a ring of around 1 cm – this will make the border around the hole for the filling. Place it into the tin and eat the centre as a cook’s treat! Mix together the ingredients for the syrup and brush two-thirds over the sponge.
  3. Fill the hole with the ricotta filling mixture. Melt the chocolate briefly in a microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Spread the melted chocolate over the final disc of sponge with a palette knife. Invert this over the cake and press down lightly. Brush on the remaining syrup. Leave the cake to rest in the fridge for at least 6 hours and up to a day. Turn out of the mould.
  4. Whip the cream to form soft peaks and fold into the ricotta and honey or sugar. Use a palette knife to spread this evenly over the cake. Finish the coating with a sprinkling of nuts, grated chocolate and icing sugar. Chill in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or up to a day before serving.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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