Sunday, July 03, 2011

Torta di Ricotta e Albiccoche (Ricotta Apricot Cake)

In this issue, I wanted to share with you a recipe for Torta di Ricotta e Albiccoche (Ricotta Apricot Cake). Moist, lemony and topped with fresh apricot, this simple rustic cake gets much of its delicate flavor from the unexpected addition of ricotta and fresh apricots.
Although dried or preserved apricots can be found all year round, their best flavor comes out when they are fresh, ripe and in season, from late spring through the summer. Because their season is so short, I try to make the most out of fresh apricot when I see them on the market. Their tart sweet flavor can be enjoyed in sweet and savory dishes. For a luscious dessert I like to incorporate them in cakes, tarts and pies. I also like to make chutneys, preserve or marmalade to enjoy their flavor all year round.
When choosing apricots always look for fruits that are plump and heavy for their size. They should have a deep orange color with no trace of green. They should also be firm, giving only a little, and have a delicate aroma. Store them at room temperature. Apricots won't ripen once off the tree, so be sure to pick plump, fragrant fruits.

Torta di Ricotta e Albiccoche (Ricotta Apricot Cake)
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 3 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup sugar
• zest of 2 lemons
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 250 grams ricotta, drained
• About 5 apricots, washed, divided in half and stone removed
• 2 tablespoon extra sugar

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil a 9-inch round cake or springform pan and place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Place the eggs, zests and the sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and thick, about 3 minutes.

Set the mixer to its lowest speed and beat in the ricotta.

Add the sifted dry ingredients, beating only until they are incorporated.

Pour about the batter into the prepared pan. Place as many apricots as you can fit on top of the batter and sprinkle them with the extra sugar.

Bake the cake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the sides of the springform pan and let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.