If you’re going through all the effort of baking a cake, why not make it a recipe that works for any occasion possible? That’s the magic behind this almond, ricotta, olive oil and lemon drizzle cake from Leticia Clark’s new cookbook, La Vita e Dolce. It’s supremely easy to make (ready in an hour!), and works for a snack, a special occasion or even breakfast.
“This is [a] creation based around one of my favorite English cake classics, the saintly lemon drizzle,” the chef writes. “Like the great lemon drizzle, this cake is moist, citrusy and extremely satisfying to make and eat. Unlike a traditional lemon drizzle, there is no whipping or creaming of butter involved.” We’re sold.
“This cake is infinitely adaptable,” she continues, “a perfect building block to which you can add as you see fit, to suit any and every occasion that life might throw at you. If you wish to omit the drizzle, the cake makes a very good, solid, simple sort of breakfast cake, a little more humbly cakey in texture, but very good with a coffee. If you like the citrus-soaked, moist glory of the lemon drizzle, then add the syrup. You can then choose to ice it with a simple glaze icing for an extra flourish.”
Recipe excerpted with permission from La Vita e Dolce by Letitia Clark, published by Hardie Grant.
Melted butter, as needed for greasing
9 ounces (250g) ricotta
Scant 1 cup (200ml/7 ounces) olive oil
1 cup (100g) ground almonds
1¼ cups (150g) 00 or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (200g) granulated sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
4 large eggs
Zest of 3 small lemons or 2 large (reserve the juice for the syrup, below)
⅓ cup (70g) granulated sugar
Juice of 3 small lemons (or 2 large)
2 cups (250g) confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 40ml) fresh lemon juice
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Make the cake: Using a pastry brush, grease a 9-inch cake pan with melted butter. (You can use a bundt or a standard round cake pan.)
3. In a blender, combine the ricotta, olive oil, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, eggs and lemon zest, and blend into a smooth batter. (Alternatively, you can whisk everything together by hand in a mixing bowl using a balloon whisk, starting with the ricotta and then the oil to make sure there are no lumps in the ricotta.)
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Bake until risen and golden, 40 to 45 minutes—insert a bamboo skewer to check if it’s done. Cool the cake to cool while you make the syrup.
5. Make the syrup: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the sugar and lemon juice until syrupy, about 3 minutes. Pour the syrup over the cake and leave to cool completely before turning it out onto a serving plate. (You can poke holes in the cake before pouring over the syrup to make absorption faster, if desired.)
6. Make the glaze (if using): In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons (30ml) of the lemon juice. Mix thoroughly, adding more juice depending on your desired texture. If you want a thinner, translucent glaze that soaks into the cake more, add another teaspoon of lemon juice, and continue to add juice to make it as runny as desired. (This will provide more of a general shine rather than a defined icing. You can tinker with it as you see fit—there are truly 50 shades of glaze.) Drizzle the glaze over the cake before serving.