Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Cake of Summer - Ricotta Berry Cake

Our family's official cake of Summer 2020 is all you might expect craving during this most tumultuous time in many of our lives - simple, comforting and, somehow, familiar. Because the pandemic has made shopping more challenging, you'll be happy to discover how customizable this fruit-driven Ricotta Cake is. No matter how I tinker with it, it comes out absolutely beautiful and delicious with whatever berries or stone fruits (such as peaches, nectarines, plums) are available and seasonal. 

Raspberry Ricotta Cake with Lemon Whipped Cream, Photo: NK

Needless to say, I have had some extra time on our hands lately, so I've been able to make this cake a few times now, tweaking the original recipe from Bon Appetit slightly and adding two different flavored Whipped Cream toppings that, at least for me, are a welcome vehicle both for complementary flavors and additional creaminess. The cake is perfectly fine on its own, but I've been known to be a little extra in the kitchen - but only in ways that don't add much labor, of course! One key ingredient sets my cake apart from the original: Vanilla Bean Paste. I use this in nearly everything I bake in place of Real Vanilla Extract (I prefer either Rodelle or Nielsen-Massey brand). The paste has actual Vanilla Bean specs in it and is really packed with flavor and just a bit of additional sweetness. It's a great investment if you bake a lot, but certainly not necessary to have. I feel the same about Vanilla Beans (which I used in one of the Whipped Cream variations below). They are a great thing to have in your pantry and take so many recipes over the top with barely any effort. 

I hope you enjoy giving this easy Ricotta Berry Cake a spin. At 10-15 minutes to prepare, you're sure to be making it all summer. Here's to less crazy times ahead, but until then, stay healthy and safe! xxxooo -Neurotic Kitchen. 

Raspberry Ricotta Cake, Photo: NK

Raspberry Ricotta Cake (+ Peach Strawberry Variation & Whipped Cream Toppings)

Parchment Paper
Round 9 inch cake pan
Nonstick Vegetable Oil Spray (I have also used Olive Oil applied with paper towel and it works just fine)
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
3 large Eggs 
1 1/2 cups full fat Ricotta Cheese (I use Galbani brand most often)
1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream (optional, but will make for a moister cake- I recommend doing this if especially if you feel the Ricotta is on the drier side)1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste (or Real Vanilla Extract)
1/2 cup Salted Butter, melted (1 stick)
1.5  cups Fresh Raspberries  (*for Peach + Strawberry Variation add 1 3/4 -2 Cups chopped Strawberries and Peaches plus some for the topping once cake has been poured in the pan)

*See optional Whipped Cream Accompaniments below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and take your 9 inch round cake pan and line it with Parchment Paper, leaving some overhang. Grease the Parchment with Nonstick Spray or a little oil. 

In a large bowl, whisk the Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, and Salt. 

Now, whisk the Eggs, Ricotta, Heavy Cream (if using) and Vanilla Bean Paste or extract in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold this mixture into dry ingredients just until blended. Now fold in melted Butter, followed by * 1 1/4 Cup Raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape the batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/4 Cup Raspberries over top. (*or 1 3/4- 2 cups fruit for the Strawberry Peach Variation)

Bake cake until it is golden brown in color and and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes in most ovens. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding. Serve with a dollop of the optional Whipped Cream Toppings below!! 

NOTE: The Cake itself can also be made two days ahead and stored tightly wrapped at room temperature. The Whipped Cream can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge several days. 
Strawberry Peach Variation with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream, Photo: NK

Lemon Whipped Cream (Recommended for Raspberry Cake)
(From Bon Appetit Magazine)1 cup heavy whipping cream 
2 tablespoons sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

*Beat all ingredients in a bowl until stiff peaks form

Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream (Recommended for Strawberry or Peach Strawberry Cake)
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Real Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
1 Vanilla Bean, scraped out, bean set aside for another use (optional) 

*Beat all ingredients in a bowl until stiff peaks form
Strawberry Peach Variation, Photo: NK