July 4th was America’s 240th birthday, and July 5th was my mother’s (definitely not 240th) birthday. So every year I usually ask her what she’d like me to bake for her and I do the baking on the 4th. This way, she gets to squeak out two days worth of celebrations.
This year she gave me quite a few suggestions, but I decided to make something I haven’t made in a while: ricotta cake.
While this cake looks incredibly complicated, fancy and difficult to make… it is not. The hardest part is pitting the cherries and cutting the fruit. For real. It’s an absolute breeze that requires no mixer (none at all) and nothing more than a few bowls, a whisk and a wooden spoon. It’s a good old fashioned easy cake.
The cake itself is just ricotta cheese, eggs, melted butter, baking powder, flour, sugar, salt and either almond extract/lemon zest or orange zest. The “frosting” is ricotta, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. That’s it.
You don’t even really need the “frosting” on top, a nice sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar is good too. I just wanted to up the ante for mom’s birthday.
And besides who doesn’t love cannoli cream? Fools. That’s who.
The fruit is optional, but to make the most of those delicious Northwest cherries I got I had to use some. And the strawberries have been beautiful lately. You could also add some blueberries and/or raspberries. It makes a beautiful summer birthday cake or 4th of July cake.
It looks so impressive people will NEVER KNOW it took you just minutes to get the cake in the oven and no time to make the topping. It honestly looks like a fancy bakery cake. Pssst: I prefer to use Galbani cheese because it has a much smother texture and finer “curd” than some other store brand ricotta. They did not pay me to say this.
- -- Cake:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups ricotta cheese
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon almond extract OR ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon/orange zest
- -- Frosting/top:
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 - 1½ cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Fresh cherries, strawberries, etc for topping
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Whisk eggs, ricotta and almond extract (or lemon/orange zest) in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
- Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting. Whisk the ricotta and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth-ish. Add vanilla and whisk thoroughly to combine. Keep in refrigerator until cake is cooled.
- Add frosting to top of cooled cake. Add chopped or sliced fruit right before serving. Keep cake in refrigerator, because of the fresh fruit and cheese. Will keep 1-2 days in fridge.
- Do ahead: Cake (plain) can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.
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