Poppy Seed and Ricotta Cake with Lemon Curd

I couldn’t be more thrilled with this cake.  It’s a delightful combination of a few of my favourite ingredients; smooth and creamy ricotta, tangy cream cheese and loads of zesty zippy lemons.  This cake is nothing other than fabulous. 

I was initially attracted to this recipe because of the lemon curd.  I love lemon curd.  I love it’s tangy, sharp hit of lemon flavour with its lusciously creamy texture.  It carries the scent and flavour of an entire fruit bowl of lemons but has just enough sugar to mellow the sharpness to create a divine accompaniment to any sweet.  Homemade lemon curd is well worth the effort, for twenty minutes of leisurely labor you are rewarded with two jars of pastel yellow lemon curd that keeps in the fridge for two weeks.  I say two weeks but I highly doubt it, once you’ve tasted this delicious curd I know your culinary imagination will run wild and the two canary yellow jars perched in the fridge won’t be there for long!

A kilogram worth of fresh ricotta nestled in my refrigerator was another reason I had to make this cake.  I use fresh ricotta almost daily in my cooking, whether it’s sprinkled over pasta, spread over toast and topped with strawberries and honey, made into fritters or rolled into dumplings.  However a kilogram of fresh ricotta (even for me) is a lot!  I knew I needed a recipe that used a whole lot of ricotta or else I would run the risk of my beautiful mound of creamy white ricotta going bad and I knew I couldn’t live with this on my kitchen consciousness.  This recipe called for 750gms of ricotta which suited me just fine!

One of the biggest delights of making this cake is watching the batter come together in the food processor.  The batter is amazingly thick and creamy; the ricotta, cream cheese and condensed milk give the most luscious consistency that instills you with a sense of smug satisfaction knowing how creamy and delicious the end result is sure to be. 

And with the addition of the lemon curd the creamy batter is instantly transformed into a lemon infused wonderland filled with the fresh citrus aromas of lemon and a canary yellow hue. 

In the oven the cake almost possesses a soufflé kind of nature.  It puffed right up and made me very thankful that I had lined the cake tin with baking paper; the added height provided by the paper was a complete cake life saver.  And just like a soufflé, once out of the oven the cake begins to fall (ever so graciously of course) back to the height of the cake tin.  All of this drama by no means takes any deliciousness away from the cake, it’s simply a result of how eggs like to behave when they’re baked.

Although the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I couldn’t help but dust this delicious poppy seed studded lemon cake with icing sugar.  The white dustings of icing sugar looked angelic next to the pale yellow flesh of the cake and added just a little festive cheer.

To serve, I placed a dollop of the lemon curd with a wedge of the creamy cake and sat down to enjoy with a cup of English Breakfast.  To me, this cake is true perfection.  The creamy, dense nature of the cake is perfectly balanced by the sharp, tart, lemony curd and each mouthful was pure delight.  Enjoy K x

Poppy Seed and Ricotta Cake with Lemon curd
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

750 gm firm ricotta
250 gm softened cream cheese
200 gm caster sugar
6 eggs
400 gm condensed milk
200 gm poppy seeds
For dusting: icing sugar
Lemon curd:
250 gm butter, coarsely chopped
250 gm caster sugar
6 eggs, beaten
Finely grated rind and juice of 6 lemons

For lemon curd, melt butter in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, add sugar and stir until dissolved (1-2 minutes), add eggs, stir to combine, then add lemon rind and juice and stir continuously until thick and smooth (2-3 minutes). Strain through a coarse sieve into a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set (1-2 hours).
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 160C. Place ricotta and cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until very smooth.  Add sugar, pulse to combine, then add eggs one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add condensed milk, poppy seeds and 400gm lemon curd, pulse to combine, then pour into a buttered and lined 26cm-diameter springform pan and tap gently to expel any air bubbles. Bake until just cooked through with a slight wobble (1-1¼ hours), cool completely in tin, dust with icing sugar, then serve with remaining lemon curd.

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