I am a fan of cheesecake, of any kind of cake to be honest, but today I wanted to make a cake that had a soft, crumbling base. Simple but definitely not boring.
Adding almonds and lemon zest is a very Italian thing to do, so sometimes you just shouldn’t fight what your mother taught you about cakes, just embrace it.
I was happy with the base ingredients, but what else?
Once again I felt like I was like listening to my mum telling me about how wonderful ricotta is for baking cakes. Apparently even my father could easily make such a cake. And that it is a challenge!
However, the idea of my dad trying to cook, let alone bake anything in the kitchen, was really scary. I struggled to stop myself from imagining the cataclysmic mess he would make, then I decided to cut a long story short and stick with a bit of ricotta, but not too much.
But something was missing. The cake needed something else… but what?
While I was engaging in some melodramatic, inspirational and serendipitous moments about my childhood memories, my husband came in with the food shopping. It always seems that the kitchen table is never big enough or has been moved, because he puts the bags so close to the edge that any confused or mesmerized item of food can easily decide to jump to their death by falling to the floor.
And this time, its deja-vu all over again!
I had to quickly rescue the punnets of mixed berries along with a beautiful glass jar of Italian ‘runny’ acacia honey.
While holding the berries and the honey I thought: when life hands you lemons you make lemonade, but when life hands you berries and honey you make syrup!
So here’s my new cake! Great flavour, lots of memories and perhaps expensive therapy… and a very happy husband that keeps coming back for another little slice!
I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Ingredients – (For an 8″ Cake Pan)
- 100g cubed butter at room temperature
- 250g caster sugar + 1 tbsp
- 2 large organic or free range eggs
- 50ml milk
- 100g flour 00 or plain flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp almond essence
- grated zest of 1 untreated lemon
- 400g ricotta
- 2 organic or free range egg yolks
- 250g washed and hulled strawberries
- 150g mixed washed blackberries, raspberry and blueberries
- 100ml running honey
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Preheat the oven to 180°, 350F or gas mark 4.
- Lightly butter a 20cm (8 inch) spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
- Cream the butter, 200g sugar and the lemon zest with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.
- Add 1 egg at a time to the mixture and beat well until fully combined.
- Add the milk and the tsp of almond essence, making sure to scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula. Beat until combined.
- Add the ground almonds and fold in with a spatula. Fold in the sieved flour and baking powder.
- Pour the mixture into the baking pan.
- Beat the ricotta with the 2 egg yolks and the remaining 50g sugar in a food processor. Then gently spread it on top of the almond mixture. With the back of the spatula smooth the ricotta mixture and bake for 45/50 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer withdraws clean from the centre of the cake.
- For the berries syrup, pour the honey in a pan with 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and stir to make sure that the sugar is dissolving. If the mixture is too thick, because it may vary according to the texture of the honey, then add 1 or 2 tsp of water.
- When the sugar is fully dissolved, turn the heat down and add the berries.
- To avoid the berries breaking up shake the pan with your hand until they are fully submerged in the syrup and leave to cook for 5 minutes.
- When the cake has cooled down, spoon the berry syrup on top and serve.
Feel free to sprinkle some icing sugar on top. I took the picture while the cake and syrup were still hot so there wasn’t any point in adding icing sugar at that stage because it would have melted instantly…
However, the taste was fantastic, so enjoy!