A few weeks ago, I might have announced I was getting involved in a work bakeoff. I might have done so with a tweet that declared I’d just had the most plentiful lunch ever, but was about to get stuck into cake tasting nonetheless. You can say many not-so-flattering things about me, but you certainly can’t say I don’t keep my word. That evening, I headed home with seven cake slices in a plastic takeaway container; a pretty good bounty considering nine bakers had signed up. In case you’re wondering, this is when the Thug Life theme starts playing.
I entered the bakeoff with the unbridled enthusiasm of a kid who’s about to spend an afternoon at the funfair; winning the first prize was the least of my worries. I just wanted to bake something that tasted great, feed others as many enormous slices of it as they wanted, and bring a little sparkle of joy to their day. The biggest disappointment wasn’t coming third: it was having to present my cake at the end, when everyone was so full they could barely manage another bite!
See, I’d baked one of my signature desserts: a tart with a simple shortcrust-like base, and a smooth, fluffy ricotta and crushed amaretti cream that could almost be a dessert in its own right. The prize winner was my colleague Shay’s salted caramel, white chocolate and Oreo cheesecake; easily one of the best desserts I’ve had in recent times (I mean, salted caramel and white chocolate), and impressively good-looking too. How can I be gutted my bake hasn’t won, when the one that most deserved it has?
I wrote the recipe to my ricotta and amaretti tart before. That was many years ago, when I’d only just started this blog; as I baked it again, it occurred to me that the small, poorly edited picture I’d posted back then didn’t do it any justice. At the time, I was so eager to share it, I just didn’t care how good it looked on screen – and to some extent, however much my photography game has improved, I still don’t. It’s a pleasure to the tastebuds, it’s a solace to the heart and soul; isn’t that what really matters?
I can never have enough of it, and every time I’ve made it, it has made my friends and family happy, too. Suffice to say that I had to make another cake the week before the bakeoff, as my partner couldn’t bear the thought of it all going to the office. Get the gist? Make this once, and you’ll never want to go without again. You might get slightly addicted, but how is that a bad thing when we’re talking ricotta and amaretti cream?
Ricotta and Crushed Amaretti Tart
(serves 8 – 10)
- 100g butter + more to grease the cake tin
- 100g sugar for the crust + 2 tbsp sugar for the cream
- 1 egg for the crust + 2 eggs for the cream
- 250g plain flour, sifted
- 3 heaped tsp baking powder
- 1 – 2 tsp almond flavouring
- 400g ricotta
- 200g crushed amaretti
Prepare the crust:
- In a large bowl, whisk the butter with the sugar, until you obtain a smooth cream.
- Add 1 egg and the almond flavouring, and mix until combined.
- Gradually add the flour and baking powder, and knead until firm and even.
- Put the dough inside a greased cake tin (I use a 23cm round springform tin). Spread it with your fingers to make sure it’s distributed evenly on the bottom of the tin, and you can create a low border all around.
- Use around 3/4 of the dough for the step above, as you will need the rest for the crumble topping.
Prepare the cream:
- Whisk the ricotta with the sugar, until you obtain a smooth cream.
- Add the two eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.
- Add 150g crushed amaretti, and keep mixing until combined.
- Pour the cream over the dough in the cake tin, and even it out with a spoon or spatula to make sure it’s distributed evenly.
- In a small bowl, work the dough you’ve set aside with the remaining crushed amaretti, breaking the mixture with your hands to form coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly on top of the cream.
- Pre-heat the oven to 175° C, and bake for around 30 minutes, until the crust and crumble topping turn golden brown.
- Leave aside to cool down (if you can resist…), then serve and enjoy. You can sprinkle some icing sugar on top before serving if you feel like it!