This recipe is titled ricotta cheesecake, however I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a cheesecake. I admit that I was not anticipating the texture of cake that I ended up with. Instead of a smooth, creamy, somewhat dense cake, this ricotta cake lends itself to a light and fluffy texture. With more subtle flavors of ricotta and a touch of lemon zest, the cake is a nice clean canvas. I think this would be perfect to serve with tea or coffee in the afternoon – possibly an addition to a brunch. However, as a dessert, I think it could use a little jazzing up.
I wanted to create a dessert that mimicked the light, airiness of the cake; I did not want to weigh the cake down with the addition of heavy flavors. Trying to stay in season, I spread a thin layer of lemon curd (you can make your own, or buy good quality at the stores these days) and then topped the cake with an assortment of fresh berries. This way the topping did not detract from the cake, but helped to give it the little extra umph that made the cake a Dessert – not just a simple cake.
So here are some thoughts on this particular recipe. It is very easy to assemble, and only bakes for an hour, whereas other cheesecakes can demand a longer stay in your oven. Again, unlike other cheesecakes, this cake does not need to chill overnight, therefore you can make the cake the day of. The only concern for me was judging when the cake was done. I did not have a 9″ springform pan (which the recipe called for), so I substituted a regular 9″ cake pan. Springform pans have higher sides, so I wasn’t sure how much volume a regular 9″ pan would hold. One of the worst things to do when making a cake is overload the pan – too much batter simply means the cake will not cook, usually explode all over your oven, and there is no way to salvage any of it. Anyways, to be on the safe side, I baked one 9″ and one 5″ cake. Why do you need to know all of this? First off, to show you that you I am always learning and that I am not Martha Stewart. Turns out the cake does not rise much and I could have used the 9″ pan – so I have changed the pan in this recipe – there is no need for a springform pan. The recipe calls for the cake to be done when the center is “firm” and the crust is a dark golden brown. I would beg to differ with their term of “firm.” This cake has a large amount of egg whites and therefore will never cook to be firm. You know the cake is done by both color and looking for a spongy, set center. The ricotta cake should feel like a regular cake when done: when touched lightly, it should spring back. Don’t be concerned with any cracks that form in the cake. Again, because of the large addition of egg whites, this is par for the course. This cake also will sink slightly in the center – yet another characteristic of this particular cake. Just think of it as the perfect well to fill with berries or any other number of delicious toppings. (It also gives the cake a very “homemade, down-on-the-farm” look that is always so enticing.)
This cake was very well received by my fellow diners at a dinner party. Again, I am not sure I would always choose to serve this as the end of a dinner party, but think it would work beautifully with afternoon tea or a sweet ending to brunch. Either way, the cake is a great light Spring cake that can be served for multiple occasions.
Recipe: Homemade Ricotta Cheese