Little Orange Ricotta Cakes
It was pretty horrible and grey in Cardiff last week. The rain seems to have taken on an unseemly persistence which is guaranteed only to break as the boys head back to school next week. Mooching about the house looking for something to bake, I decided to try and bring a bit of citrussy zing to the table to pep everyone up. These little cakes are based on a recipe for a larger bundt-type cake. But I wanted to do something a little different with it, and so decided to use some cardboard Baking Moulds from Lakeland to make some little individual cakes. I hadn't used them before, but a couple of weeks ago, I had one of the cutest little lemon cakes in one (at my fab local deli, Deli a Go Go) and when I saw them in Lakeland thought I had to give them a go. You could always use ordinary cupcake liners though.
The recipe is adapted from one of my 'cookbooks of the moment', Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman (I love this little book as it has such delicious sounding recipes and fantastic flavour combinations. It's a US book though, so uses measuring cups that you need to translate). As I wanted to make a much smaller amount of mix for just 6 cakes, rather than the large one, I played around with the amounts. Even then I ended up with mix enough for 7, so made a little mini-bundt. Sadly - or happily if you were Mike and I - that didn't last long enough to be photographed. I also decided to make a simple icing glaze, using icing sugar and orange juice, and then to decorate with orange zest. Wow! This certainly gave the zinginess I was looking for and the cake itself was delicious - subtly flavoured with orange and vanilla. The texture was denser than some, but still very moist as a result of the ricotta. The icing gave a nice touch, especially with the oil from the grated orange zest creeping in to it.
Orange Ricotta Cakes
Ingredients (makes 7 little cakes - 6 square and one mini bundt)
210g plain flour
3/4 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tspn salt
85g softened unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
135g ricotta cheese, at room temperature
2 medium eggs (to get the right measurement for the recipe, I cracked them into a jug and weighed out 75g beaten egg)
2 tbspns freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 tspn vanilla extract
3/4 tspn orange zest.
For the glaze
Sifted icing sugar - about a cup and a half's worth
2 tbspns orange juice
To decorate - strips of orange zest
(In total, I used 2 oranges - one for the cake (zest and juice) and glaze (juice) and the second for the zest to decorate)
Preheat the oven to 140 Fan / 160 Conventional / 325 F / Gas 3. Either use some baking moulds or prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
Mix the flour in a medium bowl with the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer on medium). Add the ricotta and mix until smooth.
Gradually add the beaten egg, mixing to incorporate. Don't worry if it looks curdled, as it will come together as soon as you add the flour. Add the orange juice, zest, and vanilla, and mix briefly for a few seconds.
Now add the flour, and mix until incorporated and then give it about 30 more seconds. Scoop into the baking moulds so they are about half to two thirds full. Level the surface as best you can.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until risen, golden and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make up the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and orange juice until you have the consistency of double cream. Spoon over the top of the cakes to coat. Sprinkle a little orange zest over the top to decorate, if liked. [I found that the oil from the zest ran into the icing in little rivers - see the little cracks in the photo. It gave it a really fresh, orangy taste]
It can be a little tricky extracting the cake from the bakers moulds - but after botching one, I found the easiest way was to just undo the seams.
With their citrussy aroma and flavour, these little cakes certainly brightened up my day.
* Just for the record, everything I use on the blog is bought and paid for by me. If I mention something, it's because I've found it good and I think you might be interested to know what I've used.