The other day, we talked about how to make your own ricotta at home. It’s so simple and so good. (And will only take you about 20 minutes. Maybe not even.)
Homemade ricotta is delicious on its own, drizzled with good olive oil and a little sea salt—or dolloped on fresh pasta, or spread in silky layers in lasagna.
It also makes a fabulous addition to this traditional Italian cake, the Torta di Ricotta (a.k.a. Ricotta Cake). I found this recipe on Culinary Types by T.W. Barritt. He adapted it from The Silver Spoon, that bible-thick tome of traditional Italian recipes.
I made a few changes (light brown sugar to dark, increased the lemon zest, etc.), and was so, so happy with the results.
This cake was a cinch to throw together. It’d be perfect for Sunday brunch—or whenever you have unexpected guests drop by.
This cake is like a coffee cake, but better. It’s rich, but still manages to have a light crumb. It gets a subtle, molasses-tinged sweetness from dark brown sugar, and a burst of brightness from a generous amount of fresh lemon zest. (Orange zest would be great, too.)
A sprinkling of dark brown sugar on the top right before you pop it into the oven gives the cake a slightly crackle-y, sugar-glazed crust.
It’s delicious served with piping hot espresso.
What kind of cake pan should you use?
I made this in my 9 1/2-inch springform pan.
Mr. Barritt used a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. If you don’t have a cake pan with a bottom that comes out, lightly grease your pan and line the bottom with parchment paper for easier cake removal.
If you make it in a smaller pan (say, if you only have an 8-inch cake pan at home), increase the cooking time a little to account for a thicker cake.
Torta di Ricotta
Butter for the pan
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar; extra for sprinkling
1 3/4 cups ricotta
zest from 1 lemon
5 Tbls. olive oil
3/4 cup milk
1 Tbls. baking powder
Yields 1 (9 1/2-inch) cake
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your pan with butter. Set it aside.
Make the ricotta cake batter
Toss in the brown sugar.
Whisk together until frothy.
Toss in the ricotta and the lemon zest. (Admittedly, this is kind of icky looking. Trust me: Just keep going.)
Add the olive oil and milk.
Whisk together to combine well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Stir until the batter just comes together.
It will be thick. (Like, really thick.)
Bake the ricotta cake
Spoon the batter into your prepared pan.
Spread the batter out and smooth the surface down with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Sprinkle the top generously with more dark brown sugar.
Pop the pan into your preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Unmold it and finish cooling on a rack.