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hazelnut and ricotta torte

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Hazelnut and ricotta torte

Cheesecake – how I love cheesecake. At home in the baking department though I'm usually deprived and it might be a sound case for divorce because I’m a serious cheesecake aficionado and my husband isn’t. He doesn’t want to know. He’s not had really good cheesecake yet, clearly.

This is the almost-cheesecake that he enjoys - and easily one of the nicest little cakes I've ever baked. I'm not entirely certain actually whether it is a cake? A tart? A gateau? The Italians call it torta which is broadly cake but not quite as we know it. Whatever you call it, it's gorgeous.

A grownup cake - none of that bish bash mix-everything-together nonsense: you have to separate the eggs and if you're inept you might want to chill them beforehand, then bring the yolks and whites to room temperature. Yolk mix made first, flour sieved and folded, eggs beaten until stiff - this is serious stuff. Very much worth the effort.

It's Jamie Oliver's recipe and while I'm not an enormous fan, this is super reliable.

hazelnut and ricotta torte

Servings: 12Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 125g hazelnuts or 100g hazelnuts and 25g almonds
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 30g plain flour
  • 125g ricotta cheese
  • 2tbsp poppy seeds
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 heaped tablespoons of apricot jam
  • 50g good quality dark chocolate, chilled in the fridge


METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5. Butter and line with parchment a round 23cm tin and chill it in the fridge until the cake mix is ready.

2. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 minutes until golden and fragrant, cool slightly and whizz in a food processor to a fine powder.

Grinding hazelnuts

3. Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time and continue beating. Add the orange zest, sieve in the flour, crumble in the ricotta and add the hazelnuts and poppy seeds. Mix briefly until it comes together.

4. Beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Fold them very gently into the hazelnut mix.

Hazelnut and ricotta cake mix

5. Pour the batter into the chilled tin and bake for 35 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

6. Cool the cake in the tin for at least 20 minutes. In the meantime bring the jam in a small pan to the boil with 4 tablespoons of water.

Topping the ricotta cake

7. Remove the cake from the tin and brush the jam over the top generously. Immediately grate the chocolate over the jam – it will set into a lovely thin shell. Serve with crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream.

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