Who here among us has been using the quarantine as an excuse to both a.) bake more often, and then b.) eat the delicious thing that you baked without having a workplace to bring it in to and receive much needed help consuming it? Me too, y’all. Me too. While I am lucky enough to have a small “quaranteam*” that I can parse out my creations to, they have a tendency to return the favor. So now we’re all eating dessert all the dang time. This Ricotta Cake is my friend Jess’ fault.
During one of our most recent nature sessions, Jess brought slices of an amazingly moist, tender crumbed Raspberry Ricotta Cake. While it represented a perfect slice of an “everyday cake”** to me, Jess thought that it was lacking some oomph.
Over our walk, we discussed various possibilities. We could add almond extract, lemon zest and juice, lemon oil or extract, additional salt, a turbinado sugar topping for crunch - and I resolved to try out some of our ideas when I got home. I just happened to have a container of ricotta cheese begging to be used, because I'm a grocery addict and I have all the things.
After I got home and rinsed myself of the salt accumulation that my dogs find so palatable, I hopped into the kitchen and got to work. While I stuck to the recipe’s suggestion for vanilla extract, I matched it with an equivalent amount of almond extract. (I often do this with chocolate chip cookies for added depth of flavor. Try it next time!) I replaced the table salt with Kosher and doubled the amount called for, and used salted butter rather than unsalted. My friend and pastry mentor Tom will tell you that my signature dessert palate is salty-sweet. What can I say? The drama of conflicting flavors really gets me going!
I realized that I had mixed my berries with frozen pineapple for easy smoothie prep, and was concerned that pineapple would be weird. I opted instead for my trusty Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Chips.*** While I had sadly run out of turbinado sugar for topping, I’ll definitely give it a try next time I have it in stock. (Adding a sprinkle to every muffin/quickbread right before baking recipe lends caramel-y flavor and a bit of crunch).
I sweetened the remainder of my ricotta**** to dollop on the cake for added richness and a temperature foil; serve the cake warm with the cold ricotta on the side, and you’ve instantly elevated the end product. The resulting cake was lovely and will definitely remain in my repertoire.
It feels easily adaptable - the chocolate chips were different than but just as delicious as the raspberries. Honestly any berry or berry combo would work well. The cake would be also great with toasted pecans or pignolias. You could even keep it plain as long as you have that sweetened ricotta to dress it up. I'd likely add in more almond extract to the plain cake to punch up the flavor.
In short, if you have a tub of ricotta at the ready, this cake is well worth giving a shot. I enjoyed my last slice this morning with a makeshift “mocha” (instant coffee, sipping chocolate, boiling water, & heavy cream), and I was sad when it was over. Now I just have to wait for my next grocery store trip to grab some more ricotta. Or maybe this is just the excuse I need to try my hand at making my own…
Ricotta "Everyday" Cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare pan by spraying lightly with nonstick cooking spray, then line bottom with parchment round and spray again.
- In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 ½ C ricotta, vanilla extract and almond extract
- Gently fold dries into wets until thoroughly combined
- Fold in melted butter until combined, then fold in ¾ C mix-in of choice being careful not to crush anything delicate
- Scrape batter into prepared pan, then sprinkle with remaining ¼ C mix-in of choice
- Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
- While cake bakes, stir remaining ½ C Ricotta with agave nectar
- Serve cake warm with dollop of sweetened ricotta. Enjoy!
*3-4 of us gals get together 5-6 times a week to walk off our extra calorie consumption, take in this lovely spring weather, talk food for upwards of 2.5hrs/8 miles at a time and safely socialize from a distance. We highly recommend it for sanity's sake.
**Thank you, Deb Perelman, for putting this into my vocabulary! Not only is it an effective way to describe easy, unfussy, un-iced cake recipes, but is also an ethos that I hold near and dear - everyday is a cake, or at least some sort of treat, kind of day!
***I’m originally a Northern California girl, and these were the chocolate chips I grew up with. One of my first and favorite cookbooks, “The Fog City Diner Cookbook” introduced my Mom and I to their glory. In my humble opinion, Guittard far beats Ghiradelli chocolate. The mere smell of a freshly opened bag will flood my brain with happy memories and a massive dopamine response. They are perfectly melty, the exact right percentage for a semisweet chip, have lovely undertones of vanilla, and are the creamiest chocolate chips on the market. They are definitely more expensive online; you can pick them up in any Bel Air/Raley’s/Safeway in Cali for about $3.50/bag. Who would’ve thought living in California could save you money?? 😉
****The recipe calls for a 1 ½ C of ricotta, which is only ¾ of a standard ricotta container.