Greetings dear readers. You may have been wondering where I have been. I like to think you have, even if this is not at all the case. The truth is I have been utterly and completely swamped with my thesis re-write and some project work. The last post was 6 weeks ago! 6 weeks! Where did they go? I’m three chapters out from a new draft (yay!) and have a first working draft of my project report (double yay!) and despite my lack of activity on here, I have actually been cooking and baking. (I also had a birthday (!), which was super fun, and not at all terrifying in that oh wow, I’m a whole year older and now a big, grown-up 32, what the hell am I doing with my life kind of way.) I am starting to work part-time in a pastry kitchen again. I start next week. It is a hard thing to explain, given all those terrible articles about the horrors of working in professional kitchens but I am looking forward to being back in a professional kitchen again – the physical aspects of the work, the fact that I can bake and call it work, the team work, the time-off from thinking (although I suspect it may help the thinking, which will continue anyway). So things have been busy and will continue to be so but, as I emerge from thesisdom, hopefully, more writing, more regularly, here!
I had planned to tell you about sticky toffee pudding and banana bread during the course of February but when I made the recipes I was dissatisfied. Both still needed work. I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what was wrong with either recipe, but something was. And so I trashed those posts and then I sort of lost momentum. (I still need to figure out what to do with the frozen sticky toffee pudding that is in the freezer – the recipe made loads more than I anticipated.)
One of the things I like to show here is the step-by-step process of making a recipe – mainly because I often wonder what batters/ingredients/foods/doughs are supposed to look like at certain points in the process. Does it matter if the batter has split at a particular point? Will it come back? What does bright, white creamed butter and sugar look like? Is this bright enough? Should the batter be so liquid I have to pour it out? I find the photographs help the process of creativity. Yes, the batter may split. Yes, the batter may be gloopy or stiff or practically liquid. No, that is not quite bright enough. Etcetera and so on and so forth. But taking those photographs takes time, which I haven’t had much of of late. But today I decided to blog despite not having a whole heap of photographs. Instead I just have two…
You can blame (or thank I guess) Molly over at Orangette, and Jen, who told me about the post and insisted I go over and read it. I duly did and realised that I also quite like everyday cake and that there was time this week to make cake. So last night I finally got round to baking again. I like this cake (which is obviously why I am telling you about it). It has a texture reminiscent of a mousse, but slightly more sturdy. Molly described it as moist and it is moist, or damp, depending on your word preference. It is also soft and smooth, with the occasional burst of tart raspberry. (I doubled the original amount of raspberries called for because there just didn’t look like enough for the batter. And let’s face it, you want a lot of raspberries in your cake really.) I browned the butter too, because you know, if you’re going to melt the butter you might as well brown it. The result is a nutty undertone to the flavour. You’re supposed to break up the raspberries a little but I quite like them whole. This cake is a doddle to put together and then you just have to wait for it to bake (it takes around an hour). I quite like it still warm from the oven (wait the allotted 20 minutes for it to cool before you attempt to undo it as it is fragile) but it works well as elevenses too. (Or breakfast, if you’re into that kind of breakfast-non-breakfast-food-thing.)
Ricotta Raspberry Cake
Adapted (ever so slightly) from Orangette
1 tsp vanilla
200g granulated sugar
210g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
two pinches of salt
125g unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin (I use a springform one as I find cakes are easier to undo from them).
In a small saucepan, over a medium heat, melt the butter. Continue cooking the butter over the heat until it turns brown and starts to smell nutty. You want it a deep golden colour but watch it carefully as the speed at which it can turn black and then burn, is alarming. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Whisk the eggs, ricotta and vanilla together until smooth. (I used an electric beater but I’m sure a regular hand-held whisk works fine too. I just didn’t have one, and you know, needs must.)
Mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) together. Fold the dry ingredients into the ricotta in two parts and until just combined – refrain from over-mixing. Add in the butter and mix until combined. Finally, stir through 3/4 of the raspberries. (Feel free to break them up a little.) Scoop the batter into the cake tin and smooth it out. Scatter the remaining berries over the top.
Bake for around an hour, until a skewer inserted comes out clean and the cake springs back at a touch. Leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a plate.