Today we’re preparing a dessert that’s equal parts ease and Old World Flare – a Ricotta and Walnut Cake with an Orange Marmalade Topping. Today’s cake features a delicate sponge-like texture, peppered throughout with bites of ‘crunch’ courtesy of the walnuts.
Why You’ll Love Today’s Ricotta Cake
1) Only Basic Ingredients: Today’s recipe entails only readily available ingredients, like ricotta and walnuts, meaning you don’t need to worry about cumbersome substitutions or tracking down obscure ingredients.
2) Blissfully Simple Process: One of the pitfalls of baking is that it’s often a tedious, precise, and complex affair, one wrong move or a missed minute can mean the difference between confectionary perfection and dashed culinary dreams. Not so with today’s ricotta cake, which is ‘Beginner Friendly.’ Simply mix, bake, and you’re done.
3) Old World Flare: Despite the simple process and basic ingredients, today’s ricotta cake is packed with what I’ll call ‘subdued Old World Flare,’ pairing great alongside a shot of espresso or a demitasse of black moka pot coffee.
Ingredient Notes and Tips
1) Ricotta: While we tend to think of ricotta purely as that curdy-yet-creamy cheese that melts beautifully in things like stuffed shells and lasagna, ricotta also comes in smoked, aged, salted, and baked varieties – and actually fairs beautifully in sweet dishes and desserts. For example, while ricotta plays the star ingredient in something like a Mediterranean-Style Lasagna, it plays equally well in something like a sweet Ricotta and Blueberry Tart or Italian Style Cream Puffs. That said, not all ricotta is created equal. Produced from whey, ricotta is made from a variety of milks, including from sheep, goats, and Italian water buffalos. However, in the US, ricotta is produced almost exclusively from cow’s milk. This naturally results in Italian ricotta being both naturally sweeter and somewhat less moist than its American counterpart. Thus, if using imported Italian ricotta, you need to both account for the lessened moisture and increased sugar, as I’m using American cow’s milk ricotta in today’s recipe (and all of my recipes here on LTG unless stated otherwise).
2) The Walnuts: The reason we’re using walnuts is because they don’t overwhelm the cake’s sponge-like texture with ‘crunch’ or ‘bite.’ Instead, they cook down ‘buttery’ while retaining just a hint of their crunchy texture.
Substitute: Almonds or pecans will pair nicely in today’s cake if you don’t have walnuts. However, the almonds will be noticeably crunchier, while the pecans will change the flavor profile quite a bit – but not unpleasantly so.
3) Marmalade: I do not remember ‘not’ loving citrusy, sweetly-bitter, rind-ridden marmalade. This is one of my ‘must have’ pantry staples simply because it’s such a versatile ingredient. Whether sweetening up dipping sauces, or using it in baked goods like cookies, (as we’re doing today), or using it in sweet marinades or simply spreading it on bread, the uses for this stuff goes well beyond toast.
Should You Make Your Own? No, absolutely not. There are lots of how-to articles and recipes out there for making your own marmalade, and in my personal experience it’s just not worth the (significant) time and effort. A decent brand of marmalade will always be just as good (if not better) than what you can make at home – and without the fuss, mess, and tedium that homemade marmalade entails.
Substitute: Orange jam mixed with a dusting of orange rind and lemon zest. Bear in mind that this will ‘not’ be an ideal substitute, as marmalade tends to bring a fair bit more of ‘everything’ to the table than jam does.
If You Enjoyed Today’s Recipe…
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