Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ricotta and Hazelnut Cake.

This is a recipe from The River Café Cookbook, which I refer to often but rarely follow a recipe verbatim (alas I have never been to the actual River Café, though there are few restaus I'd like to try more). The cake recipes are IMMENSE; made pretty much entirely of eggs and chocolate.

The Chocolate Oblivion, probs their most famous recipe, is 675g chocolate, 350g butter and 9 eggs and that I mean WoWzers. Have you seeeeeen how expensive butter is right now? Maybe I'll make it for a superspesh occasion or something (because I'm sure it tastes ammmmmmaze) but I don't feel like I can justify the hit my wallet or arteries would take for a spot of random day kitchen pottering.

This one however, is perfect for such pottering. It's not a 'bish bash bosh, chuck it all in and cake is done' sort of recipe; there are multiple bowls and several processes going on. But don't misinterpret that as meaning it is difficult. It's just the sort of thing for when you have an afternoon free and just fancy some kitchen therapy.

As with all the River Café recipes, it is quite sophisticated and continental tasting....I imagine they would frown upon buttercream and such likes. But that makes it all the more can close your eyes and imagine that you're touring Italy in the 20s; all drop waist dresses, loooong strings of beads, too much gin and crystal seas. See you there. With Love and Cake.

Hazelnut and Ricotta Cake.

A few notes:
  • As you can see, I topped my cake with my ever faithful homemade Nutella; it just made sense. You could happily sub shop bought Nutella though, or do as the River Café ladies did and throw over some finely chopped chocolate while the cake is hot from the oven and let it melt. You could also leave it bare.
  • The original recipe uses the zest of 5 lemons...ZINNGGG. I had run out of lemon zest (plenty of lemons, just no zest) so used an orange instead, which I think sounds like more of an appealing combination with the chocolate....if you're not putting chocolate on the top though, go with whichever you fancy.

Serves 10
You will need

1 x 12" round cake pan, base lined with greaseproof

250g hazelnuts
225g butter, at room temperature
250g caster sugar
8 eggs, separated
250g ricotta
zest 1 orange
65g plain flour
1/2 batch Nutella

  • Preheat your oven to 180°.
  • Roast the nuts on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, until the skins are loose and the nuts are just starting to bronze.
  • When they've cooled a bit, peel off the skins by rubbing them around in a tea towel.
  • Pop in a food processor and chop coarsely (you could also use a large pestle and mortar if you don't have a food processor).
  • In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.
  • Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, leaving the egg whites in another large, clean bowl.
  • In a anooother bowl, lightly whisk up the ricotta with a fork, then fold in the orange zest and chopped hazelnuts.
  • Whisk up the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  • So...a quick moment to clarify. You have 3 bowls; 1 with the buttery yolks, one with the ricotta, and one with egg whites. 
  • Fold the egg yolk mixture into the ricotta, followed by the flour.
  • Finally, gently fold in the egg whites.
  • Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.
  • Leave to cool for a few minutes before turning out from the tin.
  • When the cake is completely cold, spread the Nutella on top.

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