A simple Italian-inspired almond cake batter baked with fresh orange-infused ricotta.
The story of this orange-infused ricotta cake starts with my growing up in an Italian-American family.
I learned early on that every holiday and special occasion came with its own special food, to be enjoyed on that day and probably not to be tasted again until its time reappeared on the calendar.
Many of those foods happen to be sweet things (or maybe they’re what I loved best).
There were St. Joseph’s day zeppole (fried dough filled with creamy custard), Christmas panettone (sweet yeast bread), torrone (nougat with nuts).
My very favorite were the sfogilatelle, flaky ricotta-filled pastries that sat on the table in a brown cardboard pastry box every Sunday after dinner.
I should also mention the traditional Neapolitan Easter pie, filled with an orange-scented rice pudding.
That pie could take days to make, chill and set and from what I recall seemed to weigh as much as the 20-pound sack of Russet potatoes my mother kept in the pantry.
This recipe is inspired in part by each one of those sweets, only lightened up and simplified.
It reminds me especially of the lightly sweet, orange-scented ricotta filling in a sfogliatelle.
When you bake this cake, the moist, almondy cake batter puffs up around the ricotta, creating sweet, creamy pockets in each slice.
Italian Orange Ricotta Cake
- 2 teaspoons melted butter for the baking pan
- 1 cup (245 g) whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly grated orange zest, from 1 large orange, or 2 small
- ½ cup (30 g) almond flour
- 1 cup (140 ) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (120 g) 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (240 g) sugar
- 2 large eggs
- Powdered sugar, for serving
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush the top, bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with the melted butter.
- Whisk together the ricotta, honey and orange zest in a small bowl until combined.
- Combine the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
- In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one; lower the mixer speed and stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread so that it meets the edges of the pan. Evenly top the outside edge and the middle of cake with tablespoon-sized scoops of the ricotta.
- Bake 30-35 minutes. The cake should be golden and the batter around the ricotta lightly firm to the touch. Cool 10 minutes, then release the pan sides and cool the cake completely.
- Dust with powdered sugar before serving.