Italian lemon and ricotta cake

I’m finding the second lockdown in Italy much tougher than the first. Maybe it’s because winter is upon us and we know this is how things will be at least until the Spring, maybe it’s the relentless online Zoom meetings, a novelty when they started back in March, now anything but. I’m also acutely aware that life is particularly difficult for those trying to make a living from the land and from selling locally grown and produced food which is why we make a point of visiting our local mercato contadino (farmers market) at the weekend. These days it’s a scaled back and socially distanced affair, but there are still plenty of treats to be had, including some fresh ricotta cheese which I turned into this moist Italian lemon and ricotta cake, delicious with coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack between those relentless online Zoom meetings…

Ingredients

120g sugar
120g butter
A cup of ricotta cheese (approx.250g)
A cup of flour (approx. 150g)
2tsp baking powder
3 eggs
Juice and zest of three lemons

Method

I like to make cakes the way I was taught by my mum which means beating the sugar and butter together until the mixture turns a pale yellow colour. Then beat in the eggs one at a time. The idea is to get as much air into the mixture as possible so that the cake is light and has a good texture but this cake is heavier than your average sponge because of the ricotta cheese so if it starts to curdle don’t worry, just sprinkle in a little flour and keep going!

Zest and juice the lemons and add to the mixture with the ricotta. At this point my mixture started to look a bit like scrambled egg but the end result was still light and delicious so I can only assume that this is what happen when you add lemon juice to ricotta cheese.

Turn the mixture into a well greased 8” cake tin, preferably one with a loose bottom which will make it much easier to get the cake out at the end. Pop into a medium oven pre-heated to 180c for around 30 minutes or until the cake is firm to the touch. You can test that the cake is ready by inserting a knife or skewer: it should come out clean. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.

I served my Italian lemon and ricotta cake warm with a sprinkle of powdered sugar but you could add a drizzle of lemon icing once it’s cold if you prefer. Buon appetito!

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