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I’m not a big cake baker and certainly not much of a cake eater, but lately I find myself working on cakes. There are probably a few reasons but one is the number of impressive cakes posted on Dorie Greenspan’s engaging and active facebook group, BAKE AND TELL. Some of these folks bake their kids’ favorite chocolate birthday cake (more my speed) and others create pastry visions (think marzipan) unseen at many professional bakeries. Yikes. But it’s all fun and there’s lots of learning and togetherness– the internet at its best. Another thing going through my mind has been finding a cake my good friend Tony can eat and still stay on his healthy regime, which means no white flour, no dairy, and not much sugar. (I’m nearly there on that one; a pan of cake with his name on it is in the freezer for the next time we play Pinochle. We’ll see what he thinks.) This last Sunday, I woke early to drink coffee and exercise (I know–me?!) and saw a few cartons of sorta sad-lookin’ berries (Poor babies.) in the fridge when I got the milk. There was also a container of ricotta — couldn’t even remember what I’d needed that for, but it passed the sniff test. What could I make with berries and ricotta? Well, folks, that’s what Google’s for, isn’t it? Up came Ina Garten’s “Blueberry Ricotta Breakfast Cake.” Luckily I have the book it’s in (Go-To Dinners) and read it through twice thinking about how Alyce would make and bake this cake. And here’s what happened; I changed it as I went along…
I followed the basic template of the recipe, but used a mix of berries (mostly blueberries and blackberries with a few raspberries) and decreased the total to 1 1/2 cups. There were no more. I swapped in orange zest for the lemon (lemon’s a typical ricotta cake flavor), slipping in all the orange zest rather than a teaspoon of lemon zest. I had part-skim rather than whole milk ricotta as well as salted butter instead of unsalted–no problems there. (I nearly always bake with salted butter.) A coffeecake needs spices, I thought, so I spooned some ground cinnamon and ginger into the flour and other dry ingredients. A crunchy topping is another thing with coffeecakes, isn’t it, and I added toasted walnuts topped with a little more sugar and a tish more cinnamon. Pretty if I did say so myself, I decided this cake would be lovely for Easter breakfast or brunch but nice enough to put on the buffet at Easter dinner. So simple kids could make it, too. Any young bakers around your neighborhood? A few photos will help.
Here’s the cake before it was baked:
And then most of the berries on top disappeared after it was baked!!
The cake after cutting. Hello missing berries!!
Well, then, here’s what a piece looked like with some extra berries on the plate:
You’ll need the recipe to try this on your own or with a favorite younger baker.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9 inch springform pan.
KIDS BAKE EASTER: A Very Berry Ricotta Coffeecake
- 10 tablespoons 1 ¼ sticks salted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar—plus one tablespoon for topping
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest of one medium orange
- 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt- I use Morton’s
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided (1/2 teaspoon in batter; ½ teaspoon on top of cake)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups mixed berries – black berries, blueberries, and raspberries, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Sifted powdered sugar for dusting after cake is baked
- PREHEAT Oven to 350F. Set rack at center. Grease and flour 9-inch springform pan. Line a half-sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
- BEAT BUTTER AND SUGAR for 3 minutes using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the ricotta, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest and mix well. (The batter will look curdled.)
- ADD THE FLOUR, baking powder, salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon ginger on top of the butter mixture and, using a teaspoon, mix it together lightly before turning the mixer on and mixing until just incorporated. Stir in 1 cup of the berries carefully.
- TURN THE BATTER OUT into the prepared springform pan, even out with a rubber spatula, and add the other half-cup of berries on top. Add the toasted walnuts evenly over the berries. In a small cup, stir together the reserved tablespoon of sugar with the other ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it on top. Place pan on prepared sheet pan.
- BAKE 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Transfer just the cake pan to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes. Using a thin knife, go around the edges of the cake to make sure it isn’t sticking. Release and remove the sides of the springform pan and dust the cake with a little powdered sugar. Let cool to serve warm or at room temperature. STORE COVERED at room temperature for a day or two or in the fridge for a few days.
CHANGE IT UP: Whatever berries you have and fewer if that’s all there are. I think diced apples or pears would work here instead of the berries. Try ground cardamom instead of ginger? Toasted sliced almonds in place of walnuts or omit nuts should your larder be bare. Maybe lemon zest (one teaspoon) as in the original recipe.
Other Ricotta cakes you might want to read about:
If you liked this, you might also like my
LIFE GOES ON:
Best sous and husband Dave, the babies (dogs Rosie and Tucker), the blog, and I will be on vacation next week as we travel to the beach to spend time with our family.
Thanks for being here. You are appreciated. Have a lovely Easter or Passover or spring week. Still snowing in Colorado!
If you know someone’s coming, you can bake a cake, (I might have shared this before.)
DIRECTIONS FOR ALYCE’S SUNBURST ASPARAGUS:
One of my favorite Easter or spring sides or starters. Oven roast the trimmed asparagus (seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper) 425 deg F for about 12 min (or grill). Place on large round platter in sun burst pattern (or on oblong platter), add chopped boiled eggs at center, and garnish with lemon vinaigrette. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold.
LEMON VINAIGRETTE: Whisk well together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, a good pinch each of salt, pepper, dried oregano or dill or 1 tablespoon fresh chives (herbs optional), and crushed red pepper. Drizzle in slowly 1/2 cup olive oil, whisking until well-combined or thickened (emulsified.)
ANOTHER VERSION of mine includes tossing the asparagus with orange zest after cooking + before adding vinaigrette. (Perfect with green beans or broccoli instead, too!!)