Friday, May 24, 2013

Ricotta Cream Cake

At first glance, this cake seems innocent enough.  Nothing about it screams for attention.  But its plain appearance is somewhat deceptive.  The sleek minimalism doesn’t quite convey the quiet deliciousness that unfolds with each bite.

It all starts with a plain yogurt cake.  But this canvas of simplicity gets punched up with a light touch of Kahlua simple syrup to make it a little more interesting.  Then comes the filling and topping.  If you don’t care for buttercream or are interested in a momentary diversion from chocolate, this cream is one to try.  It’s a lovely combination of sweetened ricotta cheese, cream cheese and whipped cream punctuated with a little spot of rum and vanilla.  It’s creamy and flavorful without being overly heavy or too sweet.

Perfect for an initmate celebration, this cake has a sort of Italian flair that is rustic and luscious.  And if you’d like to liven up the platter, you can dress it up with some fresh cherries or berries for extra bling. 

Bench notes:
- Fresh ricotta in this is fabulous.  It doesn't take long to make and it's super delicious.
- If you use commercial ricotta, strain out any excess liquid, if necessary.  One of my favorite brands is Bellwether Farms.  They also make great creme fraiche.
- Start with softened cream cheese and beat it together with the ricotta just until it combines.  Mixing it for too long will cause it to become thin and runny.  It should look a bit gloppy rather than fluffy.
- The filling for this cake is from a recipe called Baby Shower Cake in Cocolat by Alice Medrich.

Ricotta Cream Cake
Serves 6 - 8

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz; 213 g) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder                                              
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                   
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz; 85 g) canola oil                                               
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz; 149 g) sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (6 oz) plain yogurt @ room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla                                                  

Kahlua Simple Syrup
2 tablespoons (1 oz) water
2 tablespoons (26 g) sugar                                             
2 tablespoons (1 oz) Kahlua                                                        

Ricotta Filling

1/2 cup (4 oz; 113 g) ricotta
3 oz (85 g) cream cheese @ room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream                          
1/2 cup (2 oz; 57 g ) powdered sugar                             
1 1/2 tablespoons rum
3/4 teaspoon vanilla                                                          

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 9" x 2” square pan and line the bottom with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and egg yolk and blend thoroughly.   Add the yogurt and vanilla.  Mix in the dry ingredients just until there are no streaks of flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap the bottom of the pan on a work surface a few times to release the air bubbles.  

Bake the cake until it's a light golden brown and springs back when touched or a tester comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

For the syrup, heat the water and sugar until dissolved.  Add the Kahlua and set aside.

Strain the ricotta and beat together with the room temperature cream cheese just until combined.   Do not over mix or it will become thin and runny.  Slowly add the heavy cream.  Then add the powdered sugar, rum and vanilla and beat until thickened like whipped cream. 

Lift the cake out of the pan and remove the parchment paper.  Using a serrated knife, trim all four edges of the cake, preserving its square shape.  Cut the cake in half and, using a pastry brush, imbibe each half with the Kahlua syrup.  Spread half the ricotta cream over one of the layers.  Invert the second layer on top and slather the remaining ricotta cream over the top surface. 


Unknown said...

Pastry Gal...
This is the answer to a surprise dessert that I will give to my cycling team after a long ride tomorrow!! I will add bing cherries for an added enticement!!! Thanks !!!

Had your cornbread and blueberry cake a couple of weeks ago. Yumminess!!!

pastry studio said...

Hello, Antoinette! What a sweet gesture for your team! Hope you all enjoy this cake. I think it will be wonderful with cherries.


Adrienne said...

I love a simple looking cake, with unfrosted sides. This is definitely a bookmarked recipe.

Erin said...

You had me at "Kahlua Simple Syrup." I made this over the weekend for my family and even my chocoholic husband loved it. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

pastry studio said...

Aha! So very cool that you and your family enjoyed this little cake. Let your husband know I'm going to focus on chocolate again SOONISH!!

Nishma said...

This was a beautiful cake and you're right that its appearance is deceptive. People were expecting a plain-ish vanilla cake and it is not that! I didn't have Kahlua and used Amaretto instead. Yummy! :) I could not get the layering right though...the top layer almost slid off and luckily I went back to the table and got it before it fell. The cream didn't seem dense enough. Maybe I didn't beat it long enough? I'll be making it again for sure.

pastry studio said...

Nishima, thanks very much for your kind feedback! I'm so glad you and your guests enjoyed the cake.

About the cream, if you notice in my bench notes I write:

"Start with softened cream cheese and beat it together with the ricotta just until it combines. Mixing it for too long will cause it to become thin and runny."

I'm wondering if you beat it too much? You really just want to mix the ingredients until just combined. I hope this helps!

Nishma said...

Thank you. I thought I had not spent too much time beating the cream cheese and ricotta, but when I looked at your pictures again right now, I saw the texture of your topping is different than what mine looked like. I'll just have to try again soon. Maybe this time with berries. :)

pastry studio said...

Mmmmm, berries!! Yes, do try again. The cream will look kind of gloppy rather than fluffy. Cheers!!