Local farm stalls are starting to brim with the seasons’ first strawberries and rhubarb, yet a cask full of fresh ripe lemons with their sunny yellow glow still manages to steal my attention. Lemons are an integral part in my kitchen and lemon cake in any variation for me works on any occasion.
It might be part of my itching feet after more than a year not being able to travel, but all I need these days to start dreaming of the stunning Amalfi Coast is a cask of glowing sunny yellow lemons.
Amalfi lemons – there are two local varieties Limone Costa d’Amalfi also called Sfusato Amalfitano and Limone di Sorento – are said to be the best in the world. Long, tapered and nearly twice the size of other lemons their thick and wrinkled skin releases an intense scent, whilst the flesh is sweeter and juicier and rich in vitamin C.
If you have ever been to the Amalfi Coast, you will know lemons play a huge role in the local cuisine. Though the famous lemon liquor hailing from the region, Limoncello, is likely the most notorious product made from the locally grown lemons, it is only one of many ways lemons are used locally. From fish and seafood to pasta, risotto and delicate desserts, all parts of the lemon are extensively used in the kitchen of the Amalfi Coast.
The below recipe for a Lemon-Ricotta Cake does not hail directly from Italy but incorporates two of the traditional local ingredients: lemon and ricotta. And it definitely has Amalfi Coast written all over it thanks to its bright sunny look.
Lemon-Ricotta Cake Recipe
For the lemon topping
4 large organic lemons
250 g sugar
Wash the lemons under hot water, then dry and chop into small slices.
In a large saucepan, add the lemon slices and the sugar. Add water until the lemon slices are just covered. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Set aside and let the lemons soak for about 12 hours in the syrup.
For the cake
350 g butter
320 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
juice and grated zest of 2 organic lemons
300 g ricotta
325 g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
150 g powdered sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Over medium heat, melt the butter then set aside to let slightly cool.
In a large bowl, mix sugar, pinch of salt, eggs, lemon zest and juice, then add the melted butter. Blend together until obtaining a smooth batter. Add ricotta, flour and baking powder and blend until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then fill in the batter and distribute evenly.
Take the lemon slices out of the syrup and distribute on top of the batter. Keep the syrup.
Bake for around 25 to 30 minutes until the cake has taken a brownish-golden colour. Take out of the oven and let cool.
Mix powdered sugar with enough of the remaining syrup to obtain a thick glace. Sprinkle on top of the cake and let set.