Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sardinian ricotta cake

Like a lot of white middle-class people of my generation, I have a few too many university degrees. My first tertiary study was an Arts degree with a double major in French which I undertook perhaps partly to legitimise my avid reading of Paris Match (and its extensive coverage of ageing French pop stars and minor European royalty). The main things I got out of those three years were two friends called Joanna and this recipe, given to us by a boy in our class. I'm not sure where he got it from - it's way more sophisticated than any 18 year old has any right to be.  But he was French, so perhaps that explains it. The three of us quickly incorporated it into our baking repertoire and all these years later, it's still being made with regularity. For good reason. It's simple, elegant and utterly delicious. Somehow it manages to be both densely squidgy and light, its lemon flavour is subtle yet striking and it works equally well as a showstopping dessert or as an everyday cake, one which tastes especially fine with a cup of the inkiest black coffee. VoilĂ .

Sardinian ricotta cake
Torta di Ricotta

11oz (300g) ricotta
11oz (300g) caster sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten with 4 tbsp milk
3oz (75g) white flour
grated rind of one large lemon
3 level tsp baking powder
3 egg whites, chilled
butter for greasing
icing sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325F/160C.

Whisk ricotta lightly with a balloon whisk (I just use the food processor) for 10-15 minutes, gradually adding the sugar until the mixture is fluffy.  Continue to whisk, blending in the egg yolks and milk, then the flour, the lemon rind and baking powder.  Whisk the chilled egg whites into stiff peaks and carefully fold them into the ricotta mixture. 

Butter a cake tin generously. 

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and level it out smoothly with a spatula or the back of a spoon.  Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes to one hour, or until a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out perfectly dry and clean.  Don't worry if the middle of the cake sinks a little, this is quite normal.  Remove cake from the oven, turn it out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.  Sift over icing sugar and serve.


  1. This cake was amazing for breakfast with coffee! Thank you!

  2. A beautiful cake! I made it in a square tin and served it for dessert with an accompanying dish of fresh peach segments, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (it's that time of year in Brisbane, Australia) and a bowl of whipped cream.