A few weeks ago, I wrote about this little ricotta cake—it was stout and petite and rather heavy with cheese. Immediately after making it, possibly even the next day, I made another ricotta cake (see above). I told people that night at dinner, slightly embarrassed, cake in tow, “I’m trying to find the perfect ricotta cake recipe.” My friend Josh—who spent a year baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies every morning (and I mean, every morning) in search of the perfect recipe—wisely said something to the effect of: “Quit while you’re ahead. There’s no such thing as perfect.”
So, shall I call myself an expert after two tries, and declare this version the shining victor?
There is the even more dire imperative of needing to get this recipe into your hands before prune plums disappear from the markets. I recommend buying these plums by the bushel. I guarantee you will always find something to do with them. They bake incredibly well, making easy stove-top jam in no time, reducing quickly to an earthy-sweet compote for pork, or eating out of hand, cold and beaded with condensation from the refrigerator. They are so small and tear-drop shaped that you usually want to eat more than one in a sitting. They are a perfectly simple dessert, all on their own.
Eating this cake.
Ricotta Cake with Italian Prune Plums
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Food52
Butter for cake pan
1 cup fresh ricotta, such as Bellweather or Belfiore
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon orange zest (organic, since you are using the rind)
1 cup (scant) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 Italian prune plums, or other small plums
Confectioner's sugar (for dusting)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan, line with parchment, and butter the parchment. Halve the plums, remove the pits, and set the halved plums aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the ricotta, olive oil, orange zest, and granulated sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl with the ricotta, oil, and eggs. Fold wet and dry ingredients together gently until just combined.
Pour batter into cake pan. Smooth the surface lightly with a wooden spoon. Place the plum halves, cut side down, onto the batter.
Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown, and a toothpick inserting into the center (avoiding the fruit) comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan, using the parchment to pull it out gently, and finish cooling completely on a wire rack.
Dust with confectioner's sugar (by placing a couple tablespoons of confectioner's sugar into a sifter, and tapping it against your palm over the cake) right before serving.