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Ricotta pudding cake

Ricotta pudding cake

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Ricotta might not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the food of Veneto. And yet, it has been part of the culinary heritage of the region for decades, featuring in all sorts of dishes, from gnocchi to cakes.

The word ricotta literally means 're-cooked' and is produced by re-boiling the whey leftover from the cheese-making process. It can be made using most kinds of whey – cow, sheep, goat and buffalo are all found in Italy.

Venetians call ricotta puina. Flipping through old recipe books written in dialect, I stumbled upon a few recipes for torta de puina – a cake made with little more than flour, eggs and ricotta. The idea intrigued me and triggered many trials (and many errors). I settled on a cake in which ricotta and eggs are the main ingredients, and give way to a temptingly tender number that sits somewhere between a crustless cheesecake and a flan. Orange blossom water is my elected aromatic element – in small amounts, it imparts the most pleasant floweriness.

I love this cake for many reasons: for its simplicity, mostly, but also for its ability to welcome a few variations. Grappa-soaked raisins, candied citrus peel or roughly chopped dark chocolate all make nice additions. As for toppings, a dollop of orange-blossom whipped cream or a berry coulis are both fabulous ideas (as are flowers!)

Ingredients

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  • Ricotta pudding cake

  • 100g of ground almonds, plus more to dust the tin
  • 300g of ricotta, fresh if you can get it and drained
  • 5 eggs
  • 120g of icing sugar, sifted
  • 30ml of orange blossom water
  • unsalted butter, to grease the tin
  • edible flowers, to decorate
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Method

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1
Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2 and liberally butter a 23cm springform cake tin or equivalent bundt tin, pudding or brioche mould. Dust the inside of the tin with ground almonds
2
Press the drained ricotta through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to 'rice' it
3
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the icing sugar until airy, light and pale yellow
4
Add the ground almonds, ricotta and orange blossom water and fold through gently to incorporate
5
Pour the batter into the tin. Set it on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about an hour and a half, or until swollen and golden on top and cooked through (insert a skewer in the middle to check; the exact time will depend on the depth of the tin you are using)
6
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Once at room temperature, carefully unmould onto a plate. Decorate with flowers and serve
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Ricotta pudding cake

 
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