It is wonderful for afternoon tea and keeps well thanks to the extra-virgin olive oil.
Growing up, ingredients like ricotta and extra-virgin olive oil were essentials in our fridge and pantry. In fact, we would make our own ricotta the Maltese way by collecting sea water from the ocean near where we lived. We would bring it home in large buckets and heat it before adding the whey to make the curds. It is one of my earliest memories of being in the kitchen and I can still vividly remember the plastic baskets draining in the sink, steaming and full of curds. Sometimes we would eat the ricotta hot on crusty bread with plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and maybe some fresh tomatoes or basil. Other times it would drain a little longer until cool, then used to fill pasta or added into pasta sauces for dinner that night. And I can remember my mum scooping the curds into a large mixing bowl with eggs, sugar and some citrus. Hearing the wooden spoon beat into the bowl would always draw me into the kitchen. I loved to stand on a small wooden stool to help mix the cake batter. Maybe even win a lick of the spoon once we had smoothed it all out in the tin.
Whenever I cook with ricotta it always reminds me of my childhood, surrounded by family. It connects me to home – my childhood home in South Australia and also Malta, where my family are from. This cake, using both ricotta and extra-virgin olive oil, is the type of cake my mum would make – simple yet delicious. I love its tender crumb and how it is fragrant with orange. It is lovely with a simple drizzle of icing and perfect plain or dusted with a little icing sugar. It is wonderful for afternoon tea and keeps well thanks to the extra-virgin olive oil. Feel free to substitute another citrus of your choosing for the orange.
AROUND THE TABLE BY JULIA BUSUTTIL NISHIMURA IS OUT NOW.
Ricotta and Orange Olive Oil Cake
250g caster sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
150ml extra-virgin olive oil
250g fresh full-fat ricotta
250g self-raising flour
Pure icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin.
Place the sugar and orange zest in a large bowl. Rub the orange zest into the sugar until it is damp and fragrant. Whisk in the eggs until combined. Add the orange juice and pour in the olive oil. Add the ricotta and whisk it all together, then gently mix in the flour until just combined.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin and continue to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, dust with icing sugar if desired, then serve.
The cake will keep in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.