This dessert feels very light and is the perfect way to finish a heavy meal. It is fluffy, slightly lemony and you can eat it as is, or serve it with the blueberry sauce, which is more impressive. I bake this in a loaf tin for easy slicing and it comes out a dream if you line the tin carefully. Last eaten after a roast duck complete with gravy, vegetables and knödel (potato dumplings) so you can imagine how full one is after that feast. Yet everyone still had room for this cake!
This recipe comes from an Anna Del Conte cookbook that my friend Becky gave me for Christmas. It is the number one point of reference for Italian cooking on my bookshelf, without doubt. I have adapted this recipe – less sugar, added some vanilla, taken the rum-and-raisin base away, but the basic structure of the cake is hers. I will also test this using quark for a low fat version, I think it will work… watch this space.
For the cake:
1 pot of ricotta (250g)
2 tbsp Crème Fraiche
150gm caster sugar
3 tbps flour (or gluten free flour)
3 eggs – yolks and whites separated
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the blueberry sauce:
1 small sized punnet of blueberries
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp brown sugar
Juice of half a lemon
First, prepare a loaf tin with baking paper to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Turn the oven to 160 degrees.
Put the ricotta and crème fraiche in a bowl and mix it together with a fork. You do this to separate and fluff up the ricotta. Anna suggests using fresh ricotta which you buy from the deli and buy from a block by the gram. But I used the standard supermarket ricotta from a pottle and it worked very nicely.
Take an electric beater. Tip in the flour and sugar and mix together. Once this is combined, add the egg yolks one by one, taking care to beat each yolk in before adding the next one. Once everything is mixed together, grate in the lemon zest, sprinkle the cinnamon in and add the vanilla extract.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the lemon juice. Now add the whites to the rest of the mix and fold it gently together to keep the air in the egg whites.
Pour the mix into the prepared tin and pop it in the oven – 160 degrees for about 50 min – 1 hour. It should first puff up and take no colour for the first 45 minutes but it will colour slightly towards the end of the cooking. It is done when you can put a knife into the cake and it comes out clean. Best served warm, but not piping hot out of the oven. And the leftovers keep well in the fridge… but not for long… greedy mouths will slice away small slivers of the cake until it disappears!
To make the blueberry sauce, take 1 small punnet of blueberries, 1 tbsp of icing sugar and 1 tsp of brown sugar (or 1 tbsp of regular sugar) and the juice of half a lemon, put it all in a pot. Over medium heat, stir everything together until the sugar melts into the lemon, the blueberries deflate and release their juice and it all becomes one deep purple sauce. This will take about 5 minutes. Cook it down slightly, as it’s positively nuclear straight after it’s cooked, then you can have it with the cake.
I also served the cake with some extra creme fraiche, totally optional.