ricotta cake with kumquat marmalade

We’re back with our 11th bake from Dessert Person, which is Claire’s Ricotta Cake with Kumquat Marmalade. We have only a handful of recipes left in the Loaf Cakes and Single Layer Cakes section of the book; we can’t believe how delicious everything has been and are so excited to start tackling Pies and Tarts as we head into summer!

Lauren’s Take

Whenever someone asks me what was favourite dessert is, I always say cheesecake without hesitation. I mean, what’s not to love about cheesecake—creamy, sweet, slightly savoury and usually served with fruit? Sign me up any day. What I was not anticipating was that ricotta cake, the lesser known and popular sister of the cheesecake, would enter into my life and shake up my long-term relationship with cheesecake. I cannot stop talking about my love for this cake and I promise if you make it, you will not be disappointed.

Once again, it is not a super complicated bake. You start off by making the ricotta mixture in a food processor, combining the ricotta, heavy cream, sugar and lemon zest into a delicious batter. You then make a meringue with egg whites and gently fold it in to make a super light and delish batter. The cake bakes for about 40 minutes; I think I took my cake out too early because it didn’t really become golden brown, but it still baked all the way through, so don’t fret if you don’t get the colour you expect.

While the cake is cooling, you make the topping which is a marmalade. Claire makes hers with kumquats, but says you can use any seasonal fruit. I could not find kumquats ANYWHERE despite calling numerous grocery stores and farms. So I decided to use gooseberries because I had never tried them and they looked pretty similar to what I saw in the Dessert Person photo. Gooseberries have THE MOST tiny seeds I have ever seen and despite taking 40 minutes to try and remove them all, many remained (but didn’t seem to affect the taste or texture so I wouldn’t waste your time). You reduce the fruit with some water, sugar and vanilla until it reaches a “maple syrup consistency.” I was endlessly confused by this—I kept taking my maple syrup out of the fridge to get a better idea what the consistency should be because I couldn’t tell if the mixture was thickening. I looked online and saw that marmalade should cook to about 217 degrees Fahrenheit so once it got there I took it off the stove, still looking extremely loose, and hoped for the best. I left it overnight and it thickened up BEAUTIFULLY and tasted amazing.

This cake is everything and so much more. I loved every bite. I dropped the cake off to a friend and the results were unanimous—this cake is unreal and should get an award for being so perfect. This might be my new favourite dessert and I am not ashamed about it. Make this and you will not be disappointed…but maybe don’t share it because you’ll wish you had more 😉. 5 stars for sure.

Julia’s Take

Welcome back friends! I am still not totally over the joyful experience that was making and eating this week’s cake. It was SO. GOOD. For me, these last couple of weeks have been so much fun because we’ve upgraded from the really simple, basically one-step loaf-style bakes from the earlier half of this section of the book, but we haven’t moved into the more complex, multi-day, panic-inducing bakes that are yet to come. These more recent single-layer cakes, and the ones that we’ll be tackling over the next few weeks, have given me a chance to bake recipes that are slightly more involved in terms of process, and super unique and delicious in result, without causing me too much anxiety!

The first step in making this cake was to try and track down kumquats. I had heard of kumquats before but wasn’t entirely sure what they looked or tasted like. Living in a smaller-sized city in northern Ontario, I was pretty certain I would never get my hands on an ingredient like this. While we do have several higher-end grocery stores that will often carry speciality or international ingredients, I felt like between citrus season coming to an end and the rarity of something like kumquats in Ontario in general, I’d have to resign myself to coming up with a really good substitute for the marmalade topping.

But I am not a resign yourself kind of girl! After checking several of the grocery stores in town, I decided to call around to a few produce wholesalers. Most of them let me know that they make almost-daily trips to produce markets in the Toronto area to bring up stock and that they’re always happy to bring up speciality items when requested (will be keeping this in mind when we need to bake with quince…). After a few phone conversations on a Monday, I had a call back that Thursday letting me know there was a case of kumquats waiting for me! (No way you’re reading this, but shout-out to Shane from TCM Produce!). I never thought I’d get so excited about a case of citrus.

For anyone like me who’s never had a kumquat before, they are the coolest little things! They look and taste like a mini, more oval-shaped, and slightly more tart version of a tangerine. You eat them with the skin on, and they make the most incredible marmalade! I made this part of the recipe the day before—seeding and halving the kumquats and cooking them down with sugar, vanilla bean, lemon juice, and some water—and I was really glad I did because the marmalade became much thicker and more delicious the longer it sat. I was also so glad that I had a full case; the amounts Claire calls for in the book are surprisingly minimal, and you will definitely want extra of this magical golden sauce (is marmalade a sauce?). I’ve clearly been a big fan of all the accompanying sauces so far, and you can now consider me a big fan of kumquats too!

When it came to making the ricotta cake, the process was really satisfying. You start by blending most of the ingredients in a food processer—not totally sure why Claire called for this particular piece of equipment, because I think you could just as easily mix everything together in a stand mixer or even a blender. Once you have your batter, which is so smooth and luxurious, I used my stand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks, and then those get gently folded in to the batter (anyone else immediately think of David and Moira Rose from Schitt’s Creek every time you see the words “fold in” ?!). My cake needed a slightly longer bake time than what Claire called for, but came out with a nice deep golden brown colour. It was also SO cool to see the centre of the cake slowly deflate after it came out of the oven; this created a beautiful sort of crown shape with a well in the middle for the marmalade to sit in.

Because it’s called a ricotta cake, I was expecting a cheesecake-like taste and texture; it some ways, this cake is similar to a traditional cheesecake, but it’s also something completely different. The addition of some flour, and the texture of the ricotta itself, make this cake much less dense and sweet than a regular cheesecake, which I personally loved. It was light, fluffy, smooth, had the perfect hint of lemon, and made for the most amazing pairing with the kumquat marmalade. I will definitely be making this cake again—it’s a 5-star bake for me!

Next week: Flourless Chocolate Wave Cake. We’ve seen A LOT of people in our Instagram community make this one, and we’re so excited to give it a try! If you don’t follow along with us there already, check us out @sistersandsaffitz.