I'm a sucker for cake, the more straightforward and simple the recipe the better. So when I was paging through the latest Bon Appetit, their berry ricotta cake—with the tagline, “This super-simple recipe is panic-free”—leaped right off the page and into my brain.
Actually, there is nothing unusual about that. Recipes are forever jumping into my brain. Most of them, however, get buried in the mental muck of ordinary life, never to be heard of again. This one, though, was different. It was loud and obnoxious, chanting “make me, make me, make me” and only laying off (just a little) when I finally wrote “ricotta” on my grocery list. In other words, this cake wasn't a fleeting bit of inspiration. This cake was hellbent on becoming a reality. And fast.
So one night before bed, I mixed up the wet and dry ingredients and greased the pan. The next morning, still blurry-eyed and shuffly-footed, I stirred the two together, folded in the berries, and shoved the cake in the oven.
The cake was as good as I hoped it would be. Maybe even better. It was buttery and sweet with a glossy, high dome. Even though the cake was tender and light—the crumb couldn't be more perfect—there was an underlying density (from the ricotta, I think) that hinted at a seriousness most cakes lack. This cake was more than fluff and nonsense. This cake was for real. In fact, it was so good that I'm inclined to say this recipe should be the go-to base for every yellow cake and any sort of muffin.
When my husband tasted it, he said, “It needs more lemon.”
“It doesn't have any lemon in it.”
“Right. Like I said, it needs more lemon.”
Lemon would be a delightful addition, I agree. As would be more berries. One cup felt paltry, I thought. And what about swapping out some of the flour for cornmeal and adding in some blueberries? Or rhubarb? Anything goes, really. Just whatever you do, keep the ricotta. It's what makes the cake sing.
Raspberry Ricotta Cake
Adapted from the March 2015 issue of Bon Appetit
1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, melted
1½ cups ricotta
3 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups frozen raspberries (reserve a few to sprinkle on top)
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, ricotta, eggs, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and fold in the berries.
Pour the batter into a greased, 9-inch, springform pan, and sprinkle with the reserved berries.
Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. The cake is delicious warm, and it also keeps well at room temperature for a couple days.
Updated March 27, 2015: I made the cake with the zest of one lemon and two cups of blueberries in place of the raspberries. I baked it in a 7 x 11 rectangular pan. We devoured it.
This same time, years previous: chocolate babka, a love affair, sugar loaf, golden chicken curry, relief and pride, plus memories, and a child's blessing.