Italian Orange Ricotta Cake

Servings : 12

In this post: Everything you need for Italian Orange Ricotta Cake

When trying to find inspiration for a bake, I often go into my kitchen to see if something sparks my creative energy. Some of my best recipes have come from spotting an ingredient that is tucked away in the fridge or cupboard and allowing my imagination to create a new combination of flavors, techniques, or presentation. This is exactly what happened on a rainy weekend when I wanted to bake but didn’t know exactly what to bake. I peaked in the fridge and saw some fresh ricotta that was left over from making a delicious tortellini the night before (I tend to over-purchase ingredients out of a fear of not having enough). This made me think of a lemon ricotta cake that I first enjoyed in Italy years ago. Unfortunately, I was immediately deflated as there were no lemons in the fruit bowl. But all was not lost - I spied a lonely orange leftover from filming Crumble Crate’s Mini Orange and Cranberry Pavlovas video tutorial. Why not substitute one citrus for another? I poked a little more around the fridge and discovered a block of cream cheese that remained from a cheesecake I made for my husband’s birthday (see above comment about over-purchasing ingredients) - the perfect base to whip up a sweet topping for my cake! To add to my excitement, I also had a bottle of Vain Food’s vanilla extracted in orange spirits - an ingredient that I was obsessed with using and I knew would be the perfect compliment to the bright citrus flavors of the fresh orange juice and zest. A quick scan for the other essential ingredients - butter, flour, sugar, and eggs - and my bake was officially on!

If you are not familiar with an Italian ricotta cake, don’t be fooled by the fact that there is cheese in this recipe. This cake does not have the heavy density of a cheesecake. On the contrary, this dessert is rich and moist with a delicate, light texture. The pop of citrus imparts a burst of bright flavor while the ricotta contributes to its melt-in-your-mouth texture. Originating in Sicily, this cake is an easy bake. With a few basic ingredients, you can create a subtly sweet treat that can be served throughout the day. It is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee in the early morning hours, a cup of tea for an afternoon pick-me-up, or an espresso at the end of an elegant dinner party. Finished with a dusting of powdered sugar and an adornment of fresh fruit, its simplicity is in fact the genius of this dessert.

Always remember that baking is an art as much as it is a science. It is a personal expression of your creativity. Whether you find inspiration by perusing beautiful photos in cookbooks, ordering an unusual dessert at a restaurant, or simply peaking in your kitchen cupboards, embrace the concept of trying a new combination of ingredients, a new recipe, or a new technique. You never know when, where, or how your next masterpiece will be created!

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature (plus 1 tbsp for preparing the pan)
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar (plus more for decorating)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extracted in orange
  • Zest of 1 orange (plus more for decorating)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Orange segments (for decorating)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extracted in orange spirits

Instructions:

Make The Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place the ricotta cheese in a fine sieve that is resting over a small bowl. Set aside and allow any excess liquid in the ricotta to drain out.
  3. Prepare a 9 inch round springform pan by greasing the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Tap out any excess sugar. Set aside.
  4. Place the granulated sugar and room temperature butter in a large bowl. Use a handheld mixer to beat the sugar and butter until smooth and creamy (about 5 minutes). Add the drained ricotta cheese and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 8 minutes).
  5. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest, orange juice, baking soda, and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the flour into the mixture.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
  7. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (50 - 55 minutes).
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Make The Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Place the cream cheese, powdered sugar, orange juice, and vanilla extract into a bowl.
  2. Use a handheld mixer to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Decorate:

  1. Use an offset spatula to spread the cream cheese frosting over the center of the cooled cake. Leave the edges of the top of the cake exposed.
  2. Dust the edges of the cake with powdered sugar.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the cake with orange zest and decorate the center of the cake with a spiral of orange segments.
  4. Enjoy!

Paula

Crumble Crate is the culmination of years of experimenting with cooking and baking in my home kitchen. Since I was a small child, I found a simple pleasure in creating fresh delicious treats and sharing them with my family and friends. As life became more complicated, the basic task of baking in my kitchen became an even more critical and comforting sanctuary.

I want to share this joy of baking with you so that you too can experience the bliss you feel when you create and share fresh baked goodies with your loved ones. My goal is for us to explore baking together and take the stress out of the process so that you can decompress and learn to find refuge in your kitchen. I can’t wait to begin this baking journey with each of you!