RECIPE | a simple ricotta strawberry cake from food writer Flora Shedden
Food writer and Bake Off alumni Flora Shedden shares her pleasingly simple summer recipe for ricotta cake with strawberries and elderflower.
Alice's curation of beautiful objects are so simple and elegant but with plenty of versatility. I wanted to try and create a cake to reflect this.
Ricotta is a lovely but often underused ingredient. Mixing this cake by hand results in a soft, tender crumb – partly courtesy of the ricotta – but also thanks to gentle mixing. It's a deeply calming process and I find it immensely satisfying to be armed with a lovely whisk, bowl and spoon.
You can use whatever jam or fresh fruit you like for this cake. As hazy summer days stretch into warm evenings, a seasonal topping of strawberries and fresh elderflower is perfect. In fact, there are so many options, it also makes an excellent and adaptable birthday bake for all ages and tastes.
Flora Shedden’s ricotta cake with strawberries and elderflower
Makes one 20cm cake
200g light brown sugar
300g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)
200g double cream
50g icing sugar, plus extra to serve
1 tsp vanilla
50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
200g strawberry jam
Handful of strawberries for topping
- Preheat the oven to 165°C. Grease and line a loose-bottomed 20cm cake tin.
- Melt half of the butter gently in a small saucepan. Chop up the remaining half into small cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour over the melted butter and allow to sit for 5 mins.
- Once cooled a little whisk together to combine – you should have a smooth, very soft mixture. Add the sugar and whisk well (again by hand) until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time whisking in between each addition.
- Once combined add the ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk again until smooth. Sieve the flour over the mixture and fold gently into the mix using a spatula. Make sure to combine the flour evenly but be careful not to overwork the mixture, otherwise the cake will have a rubber-like texture. This is why I mix everything by hand for this sponge.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out the centre clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin. Once cooled, cut across the top of the cake to level it. Cut the cake in half horizontally.
- Whip the cream until just forming peaks. Add the ricotta, sugar and vanilla and whisk until spreadable.Spread half of the filling over the middle of the sponge. Top with the jam. Spreak the other half of the filling over the top of the sponge then place on top of the jam layer.
- Crush the hazelnuts roughly and sprinkle over the top. Add strawberries to decorate. Finish with a generous dusting of icing sugar and enjoy immediately. For very neat slices I like to dip my knife in a jug of boiling water between cuts as this prevents the cream from squeezing out at the sides too much!
This cake is best eaten on the day it is assembled, but the sponge can be made three days ahead of time and kept in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Flora Shedden is a food writer, baker, and shopkeeper. She owns and runs ARAN Bakery and LON Store, both of which are heavily focused on good food, community and local produce. Flora presents a variety of programmes for the BBC and has written two cookbooks, with a third one due out at the end of this year. She lives with her partner, James, and their small spotty dog, Sorrel.