11.25.2017

Heard it From a Friend...

… who heard it from Food52 in her weekly recipe newsfeed. (Apologies to REO Speedwagon.)

I get Food52 emails, as well, but honestly am too busy cooking to read every recipe newsletter that crosses my desktop. My loyalties are with my blog friends any-and-every day.

That reminds me of a story about Mark’s mother, Dorothy, who was asked to join the local garden club. As the story goes, she declined with the tart remark, “I'm too busy gardening.” That’s me in the kitchen… but not always.

Luisa sent this recipe to me because, a) the cake almost bears her name, and b) the recipe is from Castellina in Chianti, a town we visited often during our most recent trip to Italy.

The creator of this cake is a chef by the name Louisa, though my friend Luisa jokes she spells her name wrong. Tomato, tomahto.

No matter how you spell it, this cake is fantastic. It is easy, not fussy to make, and instantly became one of our favorites.

I used fresh goat ricotta from my farmer’s market friends Alethea and Caitlin at Fiore di Capra, and a Pink Lady apple from Eunice and Larry at Larry’s Veggies. The freshest and highest quality ingredients makes for the best results, and farmers market cheeses and fruits fit the bill.

Somehow, when serving it with fresh fruit, as called for in the original recipe, I found myself eating the fruit first and then the cake. In my mind - in my mouth, to be more specific - fresh berries didn't quite go with this wonderful autumnal dessert.

One night, I skimmed a slice with some raspberry jam from Barbara at We B' Jamin. The deep rich flavor of a jam is the perfect foil for the cake. On the next iteration, rather than topping it with jam, I split and filled it. Then I dusted the top with confectioner's sugar using a chile pepper roasted given to me by my friend, Liney. What a beautiful pattern it made!

So I’ve made the cake a little more my own, in effect, making it Luisa’s Louisa’s Cake.

And this makes it a little gift for you, Luisa!

~ David

Luisa’s Louisa’s Cake

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated - about 1 cup
seedless raspberry jam - about 1/2 cup
confectioners' sugar for serving

Heat the oven to 400°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until light and fluffy. On the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time. Slowly add the flour, salt, ricotta, lemon zest, baking powder, and grated apple.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is deep golden brown and the sides start to pull away from the pan.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely on the rack.

Using a long, serrated knife, slice the cake in two horizontally. Because the cake is tender and will break, use a rimless cookie sheet or the bottom of a French tart pan to slide under the top of the cake to remove it. (See photo above.) Spread the jam over the bottom and then return the top. Sift confectioners' sugar over the top and serve.

Serves 12.

36 comments:

  1. This kind of reminds me of the good old classic English-Australian apple tea cake. Sans the ricotta. The grated apple in this cake gives a lovely moistness and the jam is a very nice touch.

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    1. You now have me very curious about the apple tea cake. Perhaps similar to an apple-honey cake I know from Italy?

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  2. This isn't too far off my mom's "apple sauce" cake. Which contained no apple sauce so I wonder if she knew Luisa, er I mean Louisa. GREG

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    1. Hmmm. My mom’s applesauce cake did have applesauce - it was a spice cake. So maybe she did know Louisa/Luisa!

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  3. David, this cake looks wonderful! Seriously, it must be so moist and I love your presentation. I make a chocolate cake with grated apple in it sometimes and it's one of Evan's favorites. I'm definitely going to try this cake!

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    1. I love the idea of apple in a chocolate cake, Marcelle... have you posted it? This cake is just amazing and has quickly become a favorite.

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  4. This cake looks wonderful and I like the pattern you made on the cake- how clever! I would like to introduce myself- my name is Fran from G'day Souffle'- I saw your comment at Mimi the Chef's blog!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Fran - I hope you'll join me every week! Love your blog!

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  5. David, that pattern with the sugar is gorgeous. I finally made the cake myself for the first time on Thanksgiving and everyone loved it. It is really moist, almost approaching cheesecake but not, and yet somehow light. The grated apple is just there for moisture, I think, because the flavor that really shines through brightly is the lemon. I served it with macerated strawberries, but your way is better - jam gives it the fruit flavor that goes so well with this cake, without the chunkiness of the fruit that isn't quite right. Love you, David, and thanks for the gift! :)

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    1. I agree, Luisa, the lemon does shine but so did the apple when I used a Gala! Just wonderful! And I really did love the jam over fresh fruit! So glad you liked it! xo

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  6. I agree: lovely cake, made it many times since it first appeared on food52
    as I told u already, I am skeptical about its Italian origin, because the butter and sugar creaming method does not really belong to Italian home cake making, I think (but it could be an exception - in Italian cakes the butter is generally added melted and cooled down ...)
    .. still .. it is lovely lovely plain cake + the pattern is really fab (I must buy one of those dollies, even the simplest cake is elevated to another level and, by the way, that sort of understated cake decoration is, to my mind, truly Northern Italian) stefano

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    1. Thanks, Stefano. I do love this cake, and have to say that many of my favorite Italian cakes don’t even have butter! I didn’t know this kind of decoration was regional... that is cool to know. And it wasn’t a doily for this - it was a steel grill for peppers! Maybe we should create a series of designs for doilies to be used on cakes!

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  7. Now, this sounds like an upscale version of the "pizza dolce" that my grandmother used to make. I love the latticed sugar topping—how'd you do that?

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    1. Frank - I was given a small Mexican-made grill for roasting peppers on a gas flame. I used that (very well washed!) for the pattern. I bet you could get a piece of the patterned steel from your local hardware. I will have to pop over to MdiA to see if the pizza dolce recipe is there!

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    2. Ah yes, of course. I have one of those grills too. I thought the pattern looked familiar!

      (Yes, you'll find the pizza dolce recipe on MdiA!)

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    3. Headed over to check it out now! Thanks, Frank!

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  8. Looks delicious, I like everything with apple. And I love the confectioners' sugar design.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thanks, Amalia! I really like the delicate apple flavor in this and, like you, love apple in anything!

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  9. Where did I get the silly idea it was chocolate (as I think I commented to you via FB or some other social medium)? This sounds so wonderful! The design is lovely, too!

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    1. I don’t know, Susan! It does look like it might be chocolate, though. But trust me – it doesn’t need chocolate!

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  10. Fantastic cake David, your design skills exceptional and how very clever to use the grill. Take care!

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    1. Thanks – sometimes I get lucky! This time, I thought of the grill… It makes me wonder what else I have like a round the house that might be useful!

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  11. Enjoyed the REO Speedwagon reference - haven't yet been able to work that into one of my blog posts. Beautiful and yummy sounding. Many thanks for reading my posts...

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    1. I honestly never thought I would reference REO Speedwagon in a blog post... but I have learned never to say never! And I always love your posts!

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  12. Oh, I could just see myself breaking that cake top... Sounds lovely though and I do always wonder why there aren't more apple cakes in this world...

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    1. I love apple cakes, too, Inger. And the apple in this is very subtle... but delicious!

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  13. I love cakes with apple, but have never made one with grated apple. I bet the texture is lovely. Love that you put your own special touches into the cake.

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    1. The apple is barely discernible in this, Valentina. The third time I made it, I grated the apple on a really coarse grater and was able to get little bursts of texture and flavor.

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  14. Lovely cake, David. I do like the thin layer of jam ever so much more than frosting, and your clever use of the grill thingy for the powdered sugar adds a beautiful touch. I love Mark's mother's tart response to the garden club invitation!

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    1. Thanks, Jean - I should do a post based on lots of Mark's mother's responses - they were priceless! Glad you like my version of the cake!

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  15. What a stunning cake, beautiful in its simplicity.

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  16. Such a beautiful cake, David! Especially with the pattern on top. Reminds me a bit of the whole orange cake recipe my mum found on an Italian page earlier this year. The kind of cake that seems so much healthier than a traditional British or American cake.

    I SO agree on the best ingredients for best results, too!! Bravo!

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    1. I can see why this would remind you of the whole orange cake, Christina - but trust me, they are very different.

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