Strawberry Ricotta Cake

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This isn’t the traditional Italian ricotta cake. This is more like a chiffon or a sponge cake mixed with ricotta cheese. The ricotta cheese helps to make this cake more flavorful, moist and rich. Actually, this idea came from having a ricotta pancake which tasted so good. Then, I thought why not add ricotta cheese in my regular chiffon cake?

As for the strawberry, we adore strawberry syrup on our pancakes, so I made strawberry mousse and it turned out a great flavor to match with this fluffy ricotta cake.

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

Mousse

  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberry (pureed)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (may need more depending upon preference)

Swiss Buttercreeam

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 sticks or 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, slightly in room temperature
  • vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease only the bottom of the cake pans or line with parchment paper. I used 3 6-inch round pans on this recipe.

If you haven’t done so, separate egg whites from the yolks.

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Let’s start with the cake batter. Sift 2/3 cup cake flour, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp baking powder into a bowl.

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In a microwave-safe container, microwave 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup butter or until butter has melted, about 1 minute or so. Stir.

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In another bowl, add in 6 egg yolks and 1 cup ricotta cheese. Whisk until well combined.

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Then slowly drizzle in the warm milk-butter mixture while whisking.

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Then sift the dry ingredients again into the bowl of the mixture, then whisk until all ingredients are combined.

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In another bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy.

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Once frothy, very slowly add in 2/3 cup sugar while the mixer is still going.

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Whip the egg whites until glossy and stiff. Just like so.

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In this picture, I just used the whisk with the meringue still stuck into it, and just simply swirl it around the batter to incorporate it.

Take about 1/2 of the meringue and add that into the batter. Then very gently and carefully, fold it in.  You don’t want to deflate the meringue otherwise you’ll end up with a dense cake.

Take the other half of the remaining meringue and fold that in as well. Fold until no more lumps of meringue are found and everything is well incorporated.

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Once done, the cake batter will be light and fluffy.

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Divide the batter into your pans. Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or so, or until done. Turn off the oven, but don’t take them out. Leave the cakes in the oven for about 15 minutes, then open the oven door slightly ajar and let it rest there until it cools completely. This prevents the cake from shrinking due to the sudden difference in the temperature. It may still shrink, but this at least prevents it from shrinking too much.

Let the cakes cool completely before proceeding to the next step which is making the mousse.

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Let’s start making the mousse by blooming 1 packet of gelatin in about 2 tbsp of cold water. Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes then microwave for about 30 seconds on high.

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While the gelatin blooms, I pureed frozen strawberries mixed with about 2-3 tbsp of heavy cream to make it easy to blend.

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Pour the pureed strawberries in mixing bowl.

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Add confectioner’s sugar and warm gelatin into the bowl and whisk immediately.

Pour in 1 cup of heavy cream and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.

Once that’s done, we can begin to assemble the cake.

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I didn’t have acetate cake sheets so I had to improvised a bit. I used this adjustable cake slicer, placed the cake board at the bottom, then lined the sides with parchment paper.

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Start with about 1/4 cup of strawberry mousse at the bottom.

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Followed by one layer of cake.

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Then another layer of mousse. Then the second layer of cake, mousse, then finally the third layer of cake.

Place the cake in the fridge and let it sit there for about an hour or so. This helps set the mousse and makes frosting the outside much easier.

For the frosting, I wanted something lighter and less sweeter, so I used Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Firstly, take the butter from the fridge and let it sit in room temperature.

In a heat proof mixing bowl, put 3/4 cup sugar then 3 large egg whites. Whisk slightly.

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Using a double boiler, put the mixing bowl on top of the pan with boiling water. Make sure the boiling water is not touching the bowl. Keep on whisking to prevent the egg whites from being thoroughly cooked. We merely want to melt the sugar and warm the eggs up to 160 degrees F which will cook it but not curdle it.

Once the egg whites have warmed and sugar has melted, remove from the double boiler.
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Whip the egg whites on high until  stiff peaks form.

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While the egg whites are whisking, slice the butter into small squares. The butter is only slightly in room temperature. I took the butter out probably about 10-15 minutes before using it. Remember, the egg whites are still warm, and only slightly cooled. You don’t want to add softened (or almost melted) butter into warm egg whites as it will not whip properly into a gorgeous frosting that we want.

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Once the egg whites reach the stiff peak stage, piece by piece, throw in the butter while it’s still whisking on high.

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You might reach this stage where the frosting became lumpy and not the smooth frosting we want. But, that’s ok, just keep whisking. You’ll eventually get there.

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Once the frosting becomes smooth, take a lick to taste if the sweetness is ideal for you. If not, you can add powdered sugar then whisk again. I started with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, taste-tested it, and added a little bit more before I could achieve the perfect sweetness I like.

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Once the frosting is done, take the cake out from the fridge, remove the parchment paper then cover it with frosting. Decorate it in any way you want. I colored my frosting with pink, to somehow imitate the strawberry flavored mousse. I initially set aside some frosting and colored it with different colors, and tried to decorate the cake to showcase my not-so-great piping skills. My sister commented, however, that it looked ugly and the color combination was very bad. So, I removed all the piping decorations that I had done, and thought of another way to decorate the cake with what I had available. My sister then had directed me on how to decorate the cake, and it came out sooo pretty!!!

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The taste is equally a success as well! My family loved it! The ricotta cheese made the cake so moist and fluffy and delicious. There’s no need for simple syrup to keep the cake moist. It didn’t become dense as I feared could happen. The sweetness is just spot on for us. We love desserts, but not overly fond of too much sugar. Not to mention, the chocolate wafer sticks also provided sweetness, so we’re quite satisfied with it. The frosting is light and complimentary to this version of ricotta cake. I’m defintely going to make this again. I might alter the flavors to mango or peach or even blueberries.

 

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