This is my all time absolute favourite dessert. We have served it many times to many guests and there hasn’t been one who hasn’t asked for a second slice. It’s creamy, yet feels light as air (with a bit of cream in it) The recipe may look like it’s going to be heavy, it may read like a long and complicated process, but it is neither, I promise. And it’s pretty foolproof. But remember that you MUST make it the day before you serve it. The two elements you need is the cake base (I guess you could buy that) and the ricotta topping. The rest is not absolutely necessary. Look at the Note at the bottom to see how you can cheat your way around the soaking liquid and the cherry topping.
For the cake base:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 pinch salt
- 160g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 80g plain flour
Separate the eggs into the two mixing bowls that the manufacturer has hopefully provided for your stand mixer. If they haven’t, you will have some cleaning to do in between. Have all your ingredients ready and weighed and your flour sifted and your oven pre-heated to 180ºC. Using the whisk attachment, first whisk the egg whites together with the salt to stiff peaks. Now switch bowls and use the same whisk attachment to whisk the egg yolk with the sugar and the vanilla essence until the mix is light and fluffy. If you do egg whites first, then yolks, you won’t need to clean your whisk, which is a good thing.
Add half of the whisked egg whites to the egg yolk mix and gently lift it under. Once it’s more or less mixed, add the other half and again lift under. This is the point at which you need to make sure your mix is completely even. Now add the flour one third by one third. I actually sift it on top the batter, so the flour is double sifted. It guarantees less likeliness of lumps and gives a lighter cake. This is the slightly dangerous part, because you can end up with floury lumps if you add too much in one go. The trick is not to panic. Just keep turning the batter steadily.
Fill off into a very well buttered 19cm/7½” spring form and bake at 180ºC for about 30 minutes. Test the doneness by inserting a small knife into the middle. If it comes out clean, your cake is done. Leave it to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes before removing the ring of your spring form. Place a cooling rack on top of the cake and quickly turn it around. Run the tip of a small knife around the edge of the metal base, then gently lift it off. If you are worried it might all stick, line your tin with parchment paper. I myself can never be bothered and just butter my old tin with abandon.
For the soaking liquid (optional):
You don’t have to do this, because your torte is going to be delicious anyway, but I like to add this additional layer of flavour and moistness to my torte.
- 100g apricot jam or marmalade if you prefer
- 50ml water
Simmer the jam or marmalade with the water until it has dissolved and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Strain the mix through a fine strainer and allow to cool to room temperature.
For the ricotta filling:
- 250g ricotta
- 170g Philadelphia cream cheese
- 110g double cream (Bulla makes a decent one) see Note
- 75g caster sugar
Bring the cream cheese to room temperature to soften it, then beat it in a stand mixer with whisk attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on medium high. Open your tub of ricotta and pour off any water that may be in it. I find that in general, it is not necessary to drain the ricotta in a sieve. Add the vanilla essence and the ricotta to the cream cheese mix and whisk on medium for a minute or two. Turn off the mixer and add the double cream, then carefully whisk for 20-30 seconds until the mix has stiffened up a little. I normally do this by hand, because I don’t want to over whip the double cream.
For the cherry topping:
- 200g fresh cherries, stoned (frozen, if it’s not the season)
- 100g sugar
- 50ml water
Mix the cherries with the sugar in a saucepan and leave for ten minutes. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Once the cherries are lightly softened, turn off the heat and leave to cool. Store this topping in the chiller until the next day.
Finishing the Torte:
Cut the uneven top off your cake so the inside is exposed. You need about 3”-3½” of cake base. Eat the small slice you cut off, then put the cake base back into the spring form (you don’t need to wash the form before doing this). The exposed inside of the cake should be visible. Now spoon your soaking liquid over the cake. You may have more soaking liquid than you need, so once the entire cake base is lightly soaked, you’re good. Keep the rest of the soaking liquid in a jar in the chiller for your next cake. It will keep as long as jam, so almost forever.
Spoon the ricotta filling on top of the cake, pushing down around the rim with the back of your spoon to squeeze the filling into the gap between cake and tin. Smooth the surface as best as you can, wrap your spring form holding the cake with cling film and leave it in the chiller overnight, so it sets completely.
Just before serving run a small knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the tin, remove the ring and slide the torte onto a cake tray. Spoon the cherry topping over and serve.
The double cream – I know it can be very difficult to find double cream in Asia, so your options are: Use 80ml whipping cream instead or use 50g mascarpone mixed with 60ml whipping cream.
Can’t be bothered to make soaking liquid and/or topping – The best and fastest replacement is a jar of cherry jam. Take 150g of the jam, add 50ml hot water and stir to dissolve. Take the liquid and use it to soak the cake, take the more solid part and use it as your topping.
Even that’s too much trouble – Throw some fresh fruit on top and dust with icing sugar about an half an hour before yo serve the cake. Alternatively spread a little honey on the cake before you add the ricotta topping and top your torte with freshly sliced ripe mango. I’ve done that before and it is simple and really delicious!