“Ricotta cheese is both an old and new ingredient in cake baking. It’s been used for centuries in Italian baking to impart richness and texture. I first made a cranberry-orange version of this sturdy cake, but one day when cranberries weren’t in season, I subbed in blueberries and lemon zest instead. Now it has become my year-round favorite. The beauty of a versatile recipe is that it changes with the seasons. It’s good with vanilla ice cream any time of year!”
Excerpt and recipe from SKILLET LOVE by Anne Byrn. Copyright © 2019 by Anne Byrn. Photography copyright © 2019 by Danielle Atkins. Reprinted by arrangement with Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
You may find it odd that ricotta cheese is in this cake recipe, but trust us when we say it adds delicious and creamy richness to the cake recipe. So many cake recipes include sour cream and cream cheese, so what could go wrong with adding this milky and decadent cheese? Additionally, creaminess pairs perfectly with the fruity and tangy elements of the blueberry and lemon that it cuts down on any one flavor from overpowering. This allows for a perfectly balanced bite every time your fork enters the cake. This cake recipe can be swapped out with whatever produce is in season to ensure you are getting the best flavors. (If you want to make the original cranberry-orange cake recipe version, simply substitute chopped fresh cranberries for the blueberries and grated orange zest for the lemon.)
Makes 12 to 16 servings
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces) of unsalted butter, at room temperature (divided use of the butter)
2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
3 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 cups (15 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (divided use of the blueberries)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 12-inch skillet with 1 teaspoon of the butter.
- Prepare dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
- In another large mixing bowl, beat the remaining soft butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (1 to 1 1/2 minutes.)
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating each egg on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. Add the honey, oil, vanilla, and grated lemon zest and blend until well combined (about 45 seconds.)
- Add the dry ingredients, ricotta, and berries: With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and ricotta alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until combined. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of blueberries and blend on low speed briefly, about 20 seconds, to break them up a bit.
- Dump the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining 1 cup of berries on the top of the batter and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
- Bake the cake: Place the skillet in the oven and bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and golden brown (50 to 55 minutes.) Run a knife around the edges of the skillet and let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes
- Give the pan a good shake, invert the cake onto a plate or your hand, then invert it again onto the wire rack. Let it cook for 1 hour before slicing.