Every now and then we like to embark on an experimental baking project – meaning that we try to come up with a less than ordinary combination of ingredients. For the past two weeks or so, Mummy has been trying to find an interesting ricotta cake recipe. We didn’t want a baked cheesecake-style recipe, so that restricted the search a little. Nothing really stood out as a must try recipe, so Chef Gerald and Mummy decided to turn to their usual source of inspiration: the Bistro fridge and pantry.
As Chef Gerald would never allow a fine piece of pumpkin to linger for too long before being put to good use, we knew this was definitely going to be one of the key ingredients. Two passionfruit from last week’s box were beginning to look in desperate need of some Botox therapy and, since this was an experimental baking project, we wanted to see if they work well with pumpkin – and they did!
The ricotta in our case was actually cottage cheese, because this was the only choice in stock from our usual organic dairy supplier. An added bonus really, given the reduced fat content.
The end result was a lovely and very moist cake. Due to the high moisture content, it takes. a long time to bake, however we recommend that this is baked longer at a moderate temperature, as a high temperature would make the top and sides brown too quickly, while the middle will still be uncooked. Expect it to “deflate” a little once out of the oven, however you shouldn’t experience a monumental collapse if it has been baked long enough.
Pumpkin Passionfruit and Ricota Cake Recipe
1 large piece (400 – 500 g) butternut pumpkin
200g medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
100g butter, at room temperature
5 tbsp brown sugar
250g ricotta or cottage cheese
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 tsp cinnamon
Grated zest of one large lemon
Peel and cut the pumpkin into chunks. Steam or microwave until soft, drain any liquid and mash with a fork. Mix in the chopped dates – you should have approximately 2 cups of mash. Add the passionfruit pulp, seeds and any juice to the mash and mix well. Set aside.
Lightly grease a 9 x 15 inch loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder in a bowl.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, spices and lemon zest until soft and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the ricotta/cottage cheese and fruit mash and mix until everything is well combined. The mixture will be quite wet.
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder.
Pour into prepared tin and bake for approximately 75-80 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle will still come out rather wet and slightly sticky (this is a very, very moist cake), however there shouldn’t be visible pieces of dough sticking to the skewer when it’s done. Due to the extended baking time, you may need to cover the top of the cake with some foil or baking paper to prevent it from burning. You may also increase the oven temperature to 190 degrees Celsius during the last 15 minutes of baking.
Rest in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack and let it cool for a couple of hours. As the cake will still be very moist, it is best to keep it refrigerated. Slice or cut as needed and let individual portions return to room temperature before serving.