I love the quiet of mornings. That magical time when everyone is still asleep. That time when I can make a coffee, work out a few kinks on my beloved yoga mat and sit down in the solitude to write or catch up on the news around my ‘right brain’ activities – food, photography, travel, Italy. It is the ying to my ‘left-brain’ activity yang – the stuff that fills my work days. And since insomnia is my friend as of late, I am getting lots of morning time! Hopefully that translates into more blog posts and recipes here on Our Italian Table 🙂
I have always had a sweet spot for ricotta – whether slathered on toast, sweetened alongside grilled peaches or mixed into a steaming bowl of pasta. In Sicily, we used to visit friends in the shadow of Mount Etna and on the late night drive back to Taormina, we would stop at a tiny bakery that was open all night prepping their loaves and cakes for the next morning. The little man behind the counter would wrap a few warm loaves of bread in paper and then smiling, pull out a small container of freshly made ricotta. We would hurry back to the car and dip the warm bread in the ricotta. There are almost no words. So simple yet so damn good. But wait – sorry – food memory detour – back to the topic at hand.
So about this cake. THIS. CAKE. Ricotta. Almonds. Limoncello. Boom. One of my favorite combinations. Light, tangy, smooth and simple. Double boom.
Truth be told, I made this cake twice. I first made a version using semolina flour but didn’t quite like the texture of the cake. So for this version, I swamped out the semolina flour with almond flour. I like the crumb on this version much better. And it is now gluten-free too (if you be sure to use gluten-free baking powder). This dessert is not overly sweet – great with that morning coffee or paired with some vanilla gelato to end the meal. And simple, simple, simple. I unfortunately couldn’t take any photos showing the inside of the cake as I need to bring it to a party this eve 🙂 – trust me on this one.
So off you go – buona giornata, tutti. Thanks for sharing my morning coffee and don’t forget to enjoy the little things….like ricotta.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for the pan
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 cup full-fat ricotta (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest from 1 organic lemon
- 3 eggs, room temperature, separated
- 3 tablespoons limoncello
- 2 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
Cook’s note: The moisture content of ricotta can vary greatly. If you ricotta is really watery, just let it drain in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl for a few hours in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until incorporated. Mix in the ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until very light and creamy. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add in the limoncello, almond flour and baking powder and beat to combine. Clean the beaters thoroughly.
- In a separate clean chilled bowl, beat the egg whites with the mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture. (Don’t worry if white streaks remain – they will disappear once in the oven.)
- Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Smooth the top with a spatula or spoon. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until firm yet slightly springy to the touch.
- Allow to cool completely. (It will fall slightly.) Dust with the powdered sugar and serve!