Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Lemon Ricotta Cake

There are two words in the title of this cake that may frighten people.  I'll give you a hint. It's not "clowns" or "hairy earlobe." It's not "cake" either. That leaves, drumroll please...  lemon and ricotta.  I know several people that don't like either, let alone paired together in a cake.  Well, let me tell you something.  This cake was amazing!  It had the perfect amount of tartness, and the cake was so tender.  I think that I just might prefer this over a chocolate cake on several days out of the year.  I actually took half of the cake, along with dinner, to a friend tonight.  She called and said that it was the best lemon cake she's ever eaten!  Shout out, Mitzi!  I'm so glad you liked it.  I made a big Italian dinner, and you know how sometimes after stuffing your face with Italian food, it feels like you've just eaten a horse.  Well, this cake, although no less fattening than a chocolate cake, seems lighter.  That means we can have a bigger piece, right?
 Lemon Ricotta Cake
source: Taste of Home Italian Favorites

Lemon Curd
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 c sugar
1/3 c lemon juice
1/3 c butter, cubed

Cake Batter:
1 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 c ricotta cheese
1 c buttermilk
1 T grated lemon peel
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 t lemon juice
3 c flour
1/2 t each baking powder, baking soda, and salt

Frosting:
2/3 c butter, softened
5 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 1/2 t lemon zest
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/8 t salt

For the lemon curd, combine the eggs and egg yolks into a bowl.  Set aside.
 In a medium saucepan, add the sugar, lemon juice, and butter over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until smooth.  Once it's all melted and smooth, take a small amount of the mixture and add it into the eggs.  Stir the egg and hot mixture until it's smooth.  Add all of the egg mixture into the saucepan and bring it to a soft boil.  Cook it for a couple minutes, stirring constantly.  Take it off the heat and let it cool slightly.  Once mine was cool, it ran it through a sieve to remove any chunks.  That worked like a charm.  Place plastic wrap over the curd and keep it in the fridge for 90 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the cake batter.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, buttermilk, lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice.  In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Alternately, add the flour mixture and the ricotta mixture.  Make sure you beat well after each addition.

 After you add the flour and ricotta mixture, the cake batter will have doubled in size.  One more thing- it will smell glorious.
 Prepare two 9-inch cake pans.  I cut out parchment to put on the bottom of the pan.  I have a fear of my cakes sticking when I invert them.  Heaven forbid that should happen. 

Bake the cake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  When you take it out, make sure that when you put a toothpick in the center, it comes out clean.  I think I had to bake mine for an extra five minutes. 
 Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Invert it onto a plate.  Let the cakes cool.  Once the are cool, use a large serrated knife and slice the cakes in half horizontally.  Gently put one of the layers on a plate.  Top with 1/3 of the lemon curd.  Repeat two more times.  The final product should be:  Cake-curd-cake-curd-cake-curd-cake.  Say that three times fast. 
 Now, before you judge me... The one thing I cannot do, for the life of me, is make a cake look presentable.  Will it taste good?  oh, yes.  Will it have a prize-winning appearance?  Not in a million years. 
 Once you've got the layers all sloppily stacked atop one another, prepare the frosting.

Cream the butter until it's fluffy- like a bunny.  Add the powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt.  Mix with a whisk attachment until it's smooth.  Frost the cake.

I wish I had pointers to frost the cake to make it look lovely, but I've got nothing.  :)  Just slather it on there until the tops and sides are covered.  I added a little more lemon zest to the top to try and cover the fact that I don't know how to properly frost a cake. 
Seriously though, this cake was fantastic.  I want some more.  Right now. 

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