I thought it was time I sorted out the fridge and on doing so happened upon a full tub of ricotta cheese.
After puzzling over it for a moment I remembered that we had enjoyed the spinach and ricotta pancakes so much that I thought I would make some more, but never did. Hence a tub of ricotta cheese that I had completely forgotten about, only one day past its best before date lurking at the back of the fridge.
I can't explain why my first thought was to use it in a cake - except that possibly my thoughts always turn to cake. In any case, I vaguely remembered a recipe in one of my cookbooks that I had been meaning to make for a long time. Years in fact. It's in one of my favourite books - "Cakes" by Liz Herbert. I have used many recipes from this book and they always, always work.
It said in the recipe that the top of the cake would crack and it certainly did!
As the cake cooled down the top gradually took on a smiley face appearance.
It even smiled through a good dusting of icing sugar.
This was an excellent cake and I would highly recommend it. I half expected it to have a texture which was more like a cheesecake but it was definitely a cake. It was nice and moist with an even crumb, a lovely flavour and is one I look forward to making again.
225g caster sugar
175g softened butter or baking spread (I used Stork soft margarine)
1 lemon, zest and juice½ tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
250g tub ricotta cheese
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
First, put the sultanas into a small pan with just enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4. Butter a 20cm round springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks using an electric hand whisk. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg yolks then the ricotta on slow speed to make a smooth batter.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, fold in with the sultanas and lemon juice. Then carefully fold in the egg whites.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Then make a slight dip in the centre with the back of the spoon. Bake for 70-75 minutes until nicely browned and done. (Begin checking after 65 minutes.) The crust will crack which is normal.
Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing carefully to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Cuts into 10-12 slices.