You would be quite forgiven if, upon closing your eyes and taking a bite of this lovely cake, you imagined you were eating a baked cheesecake. In fact with that delightful crack on top, and underlying creamy taste, it really does resemble a cheese cake.
Dense and rich, with a wonderful body and taste, this is a fabulous cake! Normally I would serve it with some crushed fresh strawberries or raspberries, but today . . . alas . . . I didn't have any, and I don't really like to eat these fruits out of season anyways. Out of season berries never quite come up to their promise.
It was delicious regardless, simply dusted with some icing sugar and cut into wedges to serve. A dollop of creme fraiche or greek yoghurt would also go very well.
I love the sweet plumpness of the sultanas that dot it's dense, yet creamy . . . crumb.
Each mouthful is delightfully lemony. It was Dorie who taught me to rube the lemon zest into the sugar when baking a cake and it's a delightful top tip that I always follow. It really brings the lemon flavour out of the zest and makes it more pronounced in the most delicious way!
This was the perfect way to end an early spring Sunday afternoon. Oh-so-scrumdiddlyumptious! (Recipe adapted from Cakes, Women's Institute by Liz Herbert)
*Lemon Ricotta Cake*
Makes one 8 inch round cake, serving 12
A deliciously dense and moist cake filled with the lovely flavours of lemon and soft sultanas.
50g of sultanas (a generous 1/3 cup)
8 ounces caster sugar (1 cup plus about 2 TBS)
6 ounces softened butter (3/4 cup)
the finely grated zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large free range eggs, separated
250g tub of ricotta cheese (a generous cup)
8 ounces of self raising flour (a scant 2 cups)
1 tsp of baking powder
sifted icing sugar for dusting to finish
Place the sultanas in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gar mark 4. Butter an 8 inch spring form pan well and then line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Rub the lemon zest into the sugar until very fragrant. Add the butter and vanilla and cream together until light and fluffy. Whisk the egg yolks together with the lemon juice. Beat the egg yolk mixture in a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the ricotta to make a smooth batter. Stir in drained sultanas. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Fold this into the creamed mixture.
Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/4 of the mixture into the creamed mixture and then gently fold in the rest until thoroughly combined, but being careful not to knock out any air.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth over the top, but then make a slight dip in the centre. Bake for 70 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. The crust will be cracked on the top and a beautiful golden colour.
Remove from the oven and leave in the pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Dust lightly with icing sugar before cutting into wedges to serve.