Thursday, March 2, 2017

Blood Orange, Ricotta, Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

I first spotted this lovely cake on Liz Prueitt's Instagram. She wrote out the recipe in the photo's description; the recipe is adapted from The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook. I meant to try the cake soon after I saw the photo, and then blood orange season came and went, and time does what it does.

I stumbled on some particularly good blood oranges this week, and the weather suddenly became sunny and warm. I've been watching the Great British Baking Show and have been itching to bake something; the stars aligned. I researched a few cake recipes before I remembered Prueitt's. A short search revealed that the recipe had been written up on the always wonderful SmittenKitchen (thank you).

I found a lot of blood orange cakes that involved flour and cornmeal - they all looked a little dense and dry. Unlike most of the others, this one involves no flour and also adds ricotta. I liked that it sounded like a cheesecake, and I always like to have more gluten free recipes in the arsenal (many clients and friends have intolerances). The trickiest part of this cake is folding egg whites into the batter; but that shouldn't deter you from trying - when in doubt, don't overmix.

This cake is glossy and shiny and pretty with the multi-colored stunning blood oranges. The brown sugar that candies the orange takes away any bitterness from the pith, and adds a welcome caramel note to the cake. The cake is cheesecake-like, but not too dense. The cornmeal adds a toothsome note. There's really not much to change in the original recipe, and the only thing I did different than both Liz and SK is that I combined both lemon and orange zest into the better, and lemon and orange juice into the batter.

This cake is one of those cakes that tastes even better than it looks.

Blood Orange, Ricotta, Almond Cake (via Liz Prueitt and SmittenKitchen)

2 blood oranges
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoons water
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) softened unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 cup packed finely ground almond flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup citrus juice (orange + lemon)
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon table salt
apricot jam (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Grease a 9" cake pan and line it with parchment.

In a bowl combine the brown sugar and water. Add it to the bottom of the cake tin. Thinly slice a blood orange. Line the bottom of the tin with orange slices.

In a bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time. Mix in the almond flour and cornmeal. Mix in the ricotta. Zest 1 orange and 1 lemon. Juice the citrus until you have a 1/3 cup's worth of juice. Add the zest and juice to the batter, and mix.

Beat the egg whites with salt until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just incorporated.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center comes out clean when tested with a skewer/toothpick.
Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes (it will start to naturally pull away from the sides), then flip it onto a platter and allow it to fully cool prior to serving.

If you want it extra glossy, heat up some apricot jam and brush it over the cake while it's still warm. 

Keeps well in the fridge (if you have any leftover :)