Following a marvellously sunny and relaxing trip to Sicily, I have become utterly obsessed with ricotta cheese.
I breakfasted on bread with ricotta and honey at every given opportunity, added it to my pasta and chose it as a pizza topping, so I was thoroughly surprised when I returned to London roughly the same size as when I left!
There’s just something about it that’s got me hooked and I’m not exactly clear what it is, so for now I’m indulging my obsession and bringing it home to good old blighty.
The owner of one of the B&Bs I stayed in on my holibobs produced the most amazing cakes each and every morning, and those that weren’t eaten were popped in a doggy bag for lunch. Therefore, when I got home I decided that the best way to indulge my ricotta addiction would be in the form of a fabulously fruity cake.
I chose peaches as, for some reason, my flat is not conducive to effective peach ripening. It seems that every time I buy a punnet of peaches, they start out ridiculously hard and then after a few days in my flat they’ve taken on that odd dry texture (that I’m really struggling to describe!)
It seemed like the best way around this problem would be to cook the peaches. Much like strawberries, peaches can be improved by a bit of heat and sugar, especially if they’re not properly ripe and juicy. The same applies to nectarines, apricots and plums.
A quick internet scout led me to the Australian Gourmet Traveller website and this lovely recipe for Peach and Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake.
All I can say is yum! This cake is everything I hoped it would be. Sweet peaches, slightly sour raspberries, crumbly topping, a hint of lime zest and, best of all, delightfully tangy chunks of ricotta! It’s a wonderfully moist cake, I ate my first slice slightly warm (as my patience had left me) but it’s equally scrummy cold.
It’s also the first cake I’ve made in my food processor. Slightly more complicated than the cakes I’ve made in the past but definitely worth the effort.
The original recipe calls for the cake to be served with a lime and vanilla syrup, which I’m sure would be lovely, but I didn’t think it needed the added sweetness. I also omitted the dusting of icing sugar, not on purpose, admittedly!
Peach & Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake
From Australian Gourmet Traveller
220g sour cream
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g plain flour
220g caster sugar
160g softened unsalted butter
30g ground almonds
Grated rind of 2 limes
1tsp vanilla bean paste
1tsp baking powder
3 peaches, halved and thinly sliced
Start by preheating your oven to 180 C / 160 C fan oven / 350 F and butter and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper. (I used a 23cm baking tin as that’s all I could find in John Lewis!)
In a measuring jug stir together sour cream and bicarbonate of soda and set aside for a couple of minutes to foam. It’s best to use a largish measuring jug as the mixture will pretty much double in size.
In your food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, butter, ground almonds, lime rind, vanilla paste, baking powder and salt until crumbly. (If you don’t have a food processor I’m sure that you could rub these ingredients together with your finger tips instead, it’ll just take a little longer.) Take out one cup of the mixture and put it to one side.
Returning to the crumble mix in the food processor, add the eggs and the sour cream mixture and pulse again until it’s smooth.
Spread half of the mix into the bottom of the baking tin, smooth it out and then sprinkle in half of the peaches, raspberries and ricotta (in little chunks) and a third of the reserved crumble mix.
Add the rest of the cake batter, smoothing it over again. Top with the rest of the peaches, raspberries and ricotta and then cover the whole lot with the rest of the crumble.
Pop the tin in the oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until a skewer comes out of the middle clean. If it starts to get too brown, cover it with foil.
Cool the cake in the tin for 15 minutes and then take it out and put it on a rack to cool completely.
Serve with a nice cup of tea!