I made this yesterday for Easter brunch at my cousin’s house.
I’d been asked to make this coffee cake, but I didn’t have pears or pecans, and I felt rebellious, so I decided to make something different. But still a coffee cake.
I sort of made it up as I went along. I started with a recipe for an apple cake using ricotta cheese that I found online, and then I changed a bunch of things and ended up with this.
Fortunately I took notes.
First, I mixed together ingredients for a streusel topping – brown sugar, whole wheat flour, oats, allspice, cinnamon, and salt. Then I pulsed in butter, and mixed in some chopped nuts.
Next, the filling.
I didn’t have a real lot to work with. I poked around in the pantry and found some candied ginger…and some very bittersweet chocolate. And I thought – hmmm…this would be interesting in a coffee cake.
I’d also been thinking about using lemon somehow. It’s spring…it’s Easter…thoughts (mine anyway) turn to bright flavors…like lemon.
But I didn’t have any lemons.
I did, however, have about half a jar of lemon-ginger marmalade in the fridge. Perfect!
I chopped the ginger and the chocolate, and initially I started out with about a quarter cup of marmalade.
After the initial mixing, I added around another quarter cup of marmalade to make the mixture more…liquidy, I guess.
Time to move on to the cake part.
I don’t know about you, but I really love ricotta cheese. I’m so happy that I know how to make it, but sometimes I don’t feel like it or have time (or I’m lazy). And when I buy ricotta, my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE KIND IN THE WORLD is this:
It’s made locally, right here in Rhode Island, and it’s so yummy you can (and I do) just dig right in with a spoon and eat it the minute you bring it home. I buy it at Dave’s Marketplace in East Greenwich, at Whole Foods, and at various Farmers Markets around here.
If you live in RI, and you haven’t tried this cheese yet, run out NOW and get some. Trust me. (And no, Narragansett Creamery is not paying me to babble effervescently like this. And if they offered to pay me? I’d just ask for ricotta.)
Anyway, I measured out a cup of ricotta, tasted some of the remaining ricotta to make sure it was still, you know, good…had another taste just to make sure, and then reluctantly but determinedly forced myself to put it back in the fridge and get back to work.
Squaring my shoulders resolutely, I moved on to the cake batter. I creamed butter and sugar together, and then added in some vanilla and a couple eggs.
I whisked together some all-purpose flour, some whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Then I added a third of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar stuff in the bowl and mixed until just combined. I followed that with half the ricotta, then half the remaining flour mixture, the rest of the ricotta, and the last of the flour.
Here’s how it looked:
Okay, now, to assemble:
I spread about half the batter in the pan…
Sprinkled half the streusel over that…
then added dollops of the filling…
and then the rest of the batter, in dollops. (I like the word “dollop” – can you tell?)
and, finally, I sprinkled on the rest of the streusel topping mixture.
Then I put it in the oven and baked the whole thing for…let’s see…five…four…carry the one…I think it was about an hour and ten minutes.
I let the cake cool for an hour – yes, a whole hour – in the pan.
And then I let it cool to room temperature before sliding it onto a plate and whisking it away to brunch.
I sort of hated to do that, actually. I wanted to be able to take a picture of a slice of it, just so you could see the middle.
But I thought it might be tacky to show up with a coffee cake that had a piece missing.
And yes, I could have brought my camera to brunch…but then I’d have to put a slice on a plate and set that near decent light and take a picture and there are a lot of people at this brunch and many are not from my side of the family or aware of this blog or how weird food bloggers can be with a camera and a food item on a plate.
So I chickened out.
But, just so you know, it sort of looked like this:
Anyway, here’s the recipe, in case you’re interested.
Ricotta Coffee Cake with a Chocolate, Lemon and Double Ginger Filling
(makes 1 9” coffee cake)
For the Streusel:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats (not the quick kind)
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup (or a little more) chopped almonds (or other nut of your choice)
For the Filling:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 cup lemon ginger marmalade
For the Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup ricotta cheese
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
Butter a 9” springform pan. (Not a bundt pan.)
Place streusel ingredients EXCEPT THE BUTTER AND NUTS in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse repeatedly until most of the butter is blended into the other ingredients and there aren’t many lumps. Stir in the chopped nuts and set aside.
Combine chopped chocolate, ginger and marmalade in a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, and then the eggs, one at a time.
Add the flour mixture and the ricotta, alternating between them – flour, ricotta, flour, ricotta, flour. Mix only until just combined.
Spread about half of the batter in the bottom of the pan. It’s a thick batter – almost a dough – so you won’t be able to just pour it in.
Sprinkle about half of the streusel topping over the batter, then spoon the filling on top of that. You can spread it around with a spatula if you want, but I left mine in dollops.
And speaking of dollops, now spoon the remaining batter over the filling. Again, it won’t spread, but that’s okay.
Sprinkle the rest of the streudel over the top and slide the whole thing into the oven.
Bake at least an hour, or until a long, skinny knife or skewer (a toothpick is too small – it won’t reach to the bottom) inserted in the middle – all the way to the bottom - comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for an hour before removing.
Loosen and remove the sides of the springform and slide a long icing spatula under the cake to loosen it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide the cake onto a plate and allow it to finish cooling to room temperature before serving.