Ricotta and lemon! Judge Cataratta adored this cake!
ingredients for 6 generous servings (total cost about 5€ with organic products)
- 160 g cake flour
- 40 g starch (maizena or potato)
- 140 g superfine sugar
- 150 g eggs (about 3 medium)
- 125 g ricotta (from cow milk)
- 40 g butter
- 10 g EV sunflower oil
- 4 g baking powder
- 1,25 g (¼ tsp) baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 15 ml lemon juice
- 40 ml milk
- a pinch of cream of tartar
- icing sugar to sprinkle
Do you remember Mr Cataratta? The Italian judge who helped the local Mafia boss in the hilarious Roberto Benigni´s movie Johnny Stecchino? Cataratta was fond of this cake, which is full of southern Italian flavours.
In my fridge I had half a confection (125 g) of ricotta, left from the spinach – ricotta gnocchi we made yesterday. I also had some very fragrant lemons, a gift by our beloved greengrocer Mr George as well as some fresh eggs.
So, I thought I’ d prepare a ricotta – lemon cake, a classic Italian one!
I love using ricotta in my cakes, because it offers flavour and at the same time gives body to the preparation, without having to use much fat. By the way, ricotta (from cow milk) contains only about 7-11 % fat.
So, let´s start.
First of all we melt the butter and we let it cool, then we mix it with the sunflower oil. We strain the ricotta to get rid of its liquids. We pass the strained ricotta through the sieve to make it fluffier. We should end up with about 100 g of strained and sieved ricotta.
We butter very well a round cake tin and line its bottom with parchment paper. In this case, I used a 18 cm diameter X 5 cm height round tin. After lining the tin with the paper we butter again, taking care not to leave spots without lubrication and we sprinkle with flour all over, rolling the tin and tapping off the excess flour.
In a mixer bowl we sift all dry ingredients (flour, starch, baking powder, baking soda and salt), we stir a little to combine and we set aside. We grind and squeeze a lemon. We mix the juice with the milk and we set aside, as well.
We separate the yolks from the whites and we divide the sugar in ¾ and ¼. In a bowl we beat the yolks with the ¾ of the sugar, until they become pale white and fluffy, then we add the melted butter and sunflower oil, as well as the lemon zest and we mix to combine.
We take a spoonful from the above mixture and we mix it well with the ricotta cheese, then we return the ricotta emulsion to the egg – fats batter and we mix to incorporate. We then add the milk – lemon juice blend. We will end up with a liquid batter.
We start mixing the dry ingredients adding gradually the liquid batter until fully incorporated.
We whisk the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar on medium low speed until foamy, we increase the speed to medium high and we whip the eggs for about 1 minute to soft mounds. We gradually add the remaining sugar and we continue whipping to stiff peaks (about to 2 min). We mix ¼ of the whipped whites into the yolks and ricotta mixture, then with a spatula we gently fold in the remaining eggs whites in three batches, being careful not to deflate them.
We carefully spoon the batter into the tin.
We bake in a preheated oven at 175ºC (static function) for about 25-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out ALMOST clean (NOT completely clean).
When ready, we remove the cake from the oven, we allow it to cool for 10 min, then we unmould and we place it on a lightly greased wire rack.
After it cools completely, we generously sprinkle with icing sugar.