Ricotta and strawberry cakeSep 15, 2015
Ciambella di ricotta e fragole
I have always found baking cakes an art I was not particularly interested in. I was always more interested in savoury dishes but the discovery of excellent local ricotta and the fact that many Italian cakes include it instead of butter have inspired me to start baking. After a few initial challenges I am now enjoying experimenting with different combinations of ricotta and fruits. What I love the most is how easy making these cakes is and how soft and flavourful they are, even a few days after baking. The sweet fruit character of these cakes comes from the natural flavours of the berries rather that copious amounts of added sugar. The results have been so good that I have started working on a series of baking recipes. There will be more posts with many different cakes, this is my first one and it was really delicious.
Ingredients for 8 people
200 gr of plain flour
150 gr of caster sugar
250 gr of good quality ricotta, drained in the refrigerator for a few hours if it’s in water in a container.
80 ml of rice bran oil
The zest of an untreated lemon
1 tsp of vanilla paste or 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
16 gr of baking powder (4 and 1/2 tsp)
300 gr of fresh small strawberries, cleaned and hulled
Warm the oven to 180° centigrade (static), make sure your oven is warm enough.
You will need a 22 cm round spring form cake tin or a 22 cm Bundt cake tin.
Generously butter the cake tin and sprinkle with flour to coat the tin thoroughly.
All ingredients need to be at room temperature.
In a bowl, soften the ricotta with a spatula, add the sugar and using a hand held mixer at low to medium speed, whisk the sugar with the ricotta until the sugar is incorporated with the ricotta and you have achieved a soft cream consistency. Add the lemon zest and vanilla, mixing with a spatula to incorporate. In a separate small bowl beat the eggs and add them to the cream mixture together with the oil. Turn the mixer back on and blend the oil and eggs with the cream at the same low speed a few minutes; or you can do this with a spatula if you prefer.
In a separate bowl sift the flour together with the baking powder.
Start pouring the flour into the cream mixture and gently continue incorporating with the mixer at low speed, add the flour a little at a time, in three to four batches.
Transfer the mixture to the buttered cake tin, level the mixture and start sinking the strawberries in the mixture. Push the strawberries in the mixture top side down (if using a Bundt tin), and at different levels, so that when the cake is cut the fruit will be distributed across the height of the cake.
Make sure the fruit is evenly distributed around all the cake mixture.
Bake in the warm oven for 30 minutes (do not open the oven door during this time) after 30 minutes check the cake is cooked by inserting a toothpick. It will probably need another 5 to 10 minutes cooking, depending on the cake tin you have used and your oven.
Test the cake is cooked again by inserting a toothpick in the centre. When the toothpick comes out clean the cake will be ready.
When done remove from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then remove from the tin and transfer to a serving plate.
Sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.