A few weeks ago we were in Italy and looking for restaurant recommendations in Siena and I found Jul's Kitchen blog. I immediately fell for her writing voice and her food photography style which made me instantly feel I could trust her recipes. (If you don't know her site, you should check it out! I wish I found her before our travels so I could have booked a cooking lesson with her.) As soon as we returned from Siena, I knew I'd need to try one of her Tuscan recipes while still in Italy.
The recipe has a few constants: ricotta and crumbs. But you can play with the toppings. I started, as she suggested, with chocolate. Next time, I'll grab whatever looks tempting at the Farmer's Market and see what happens.
The cake isn't too sweet and the sugar can be dialed up or down depending on what you like and what topping you're using. The batter comes together quickly and doesn't get worked into a dough but rather fat crumbs.
We made this while in Italy and had, oh maybe half before it cooled, and took forkfuls straight from the fridge the next few days. It was as good with wine as with coffee.
250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
100 g (1 cup) almond flour
50 g (3 TBSP) sugar, plus extra for the pan
115 grams (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, diced
15 g (1 TBSP) baking powder
½ teaspoon table/fine sea salt (add ¼ teaspoon more if using kosher)
1 egg, beaten
500 g (1 lb) fresh ricotta
1 TBSP sugar
A splash (2 oz or 4 TBSP) dessert wine (optional)
Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
140 g (5 oz) dark chocolate (I used 70% dark chocolate by TCHO)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Prepare a springform pan or baking tin by buttering the bottom and sides and adding sugar to the butter. (Trust me! It works and is tastier than flour and easier than fighting parchment paper.)
Combine both flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Add the butter and incorporate into the mix by rubbing all the ingredients with your fingers until you get fine crumbs.
Add a beaten egg and work into the rest of ingredients in the bowl with the tips of your fingers, until your get coarse crumbs. It won’t turn into a ball of dough, but will be done with you get coarse crumbs that stick together when squeezed (video demo of this above). Set aside.
Prepare the filling in a separate bowl. Add the ricotta, a splash of dessert wine (optional), sugar, and grated lemon zest. Whisk well until you get a smooth cream.
Layer by layer, fill the pan or tin.
First, add about 60% of the dough, pressing into the bottom to form a firm crust.
Second, spoon and fill the base with the ricotta mixture, making it relatively flat on top.
Third, distribute the chocolate over the ricotta layer.
Finally, top with the remaining dough crumbs (don’t press them this time).
Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes until pale golden and set.
Cool for at least 15 minutes before opening the springform or slicing from the pan.
Serve warm or at room temp. Store in the fridge.
The chocolate can be replaced with fruit. Plums, strawberries, figs, would all be wonderful.
Jul's original recipe calls for a splash of a sweet wine in the filling but I didn't have and couldn't wait to make this and found it to be just as delicious without. But if you have some on hand, stir 2 - 4 TBSP into the filling.