This cake is exquisite. I could stop there and would have conveyed my message completely, but I’ll carry on...the squidgy, juicy texture of this cake is almost indescribably lovely. It’s similar to baked cheesecake – understandable given the ricotta – but doesn’t have the cheesecake style base and is much moister. The soaked raisins burst gentle rum flavours on your tongue and the soft cake cushions them delightfully. As you can guess....I’m a fan!
I think that where any recipe requires soaking fruit in alcohol you should aim to soak for as long as possible, ideally 24 hours. This isn’t vital and your cake won’t be ruined if you can’t, but more is always more! The longer soak allows greater absorption too so the raisins will be really plump and moist. As I soaked the fruit for 24 hours I used a little more than the recipe stated e.g. 6 tablespoons instead of 3...hic!
One warning though – if, like me, you taste the raw mix before baking, be prepared that the temptation to sit and eat the whole bowlful will be great. The only thing that stopped me was the thought ‘if it tastes this great raw, how awesome will it be cooked?’ I now know the answer: VERY!
How I wish this piece were here for me to eat right now:
You can dust the cake with icing sugar before serving if you want to. My eatership (as I have decided to term the eaters of my baking) never seem to like clouds of icing sugar on the top of their cake so I didn’t bother.
This cake is best made the day before you want it as letting it sit overnight somehow makes it more succulent. As long as you keep it airtight or just wrap it in foil it will keep perfectly for a few days.
3 tablespoons rum (but Marsala would work if you don’t like rum)
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
250g ricotta cheese
Vanilla extract to taste, I used about a tablespoon
3 eggs, separated
150g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Icing sugar, for dusting before serving (optional)
How to make:
- Either the day before, or as early as you can, put the raisins and rum in a bowl. Ensure that all the raisins are sitting in the liquor and then cover and put aside. If preparing the day before, whenever you think of it, give the raisins a stir to make sure that they all get their share of rum.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/ Gas mark 4 and line either an 18cm square tin, or a 20cm round tin with greaseproof paper.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Don’t skimp on this stage as I think it is the foundation of success. Take a tiny piece of the mix and place on your tongue. Press it to the roof of your mouth – if it’s gritty the mix needs more beating. When it’s smooth you can move to the next stage.
- Beat in the ricotta, egg yolks and vanilla.
- Stir in (beating is too tough on the raisins) the rum and raisin mixture including any unabsorbed rum.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.
- Add a couple of spoons of egg white to the ricotta mix and fold in using a metal spoon. This slackens the mix and makes the rest of the egg white easier to fold in.
- Fold in the remaining egg white using light lifting and cutting motions.
- Fold in the flour and baking powder until the mix is thoroughly combined, then spoon into the tin.
- Level the surface, but don’t press down too hard as you don’t want to lose all the air you’ve been carefully folding in, and bake for 40 minutes or until the surface is firm to the touch and the contents don’t wobble too much. It will firm up on cooling so it’s a judgement call. Mine took almost an hour until I was happy it was set enough.
- The cake does flatten a little on cooling so don’t worry that you’ve done anything wrong. Let the cake cool in the tin as it needs to firm up before you handle it.
- Serve dusted with icing sugar if you want to.
- Bask in glory at the wonderful thing you have made.