A delicious, sturdy, afternoon tea cake with Italian roots - this divine mix-and-bake Apple Pine nut Ricotta Cake is baked from freshly made, warm ricotta. With a gorgeous crumb and toasty pine nut topping kissed with icing sugar, this ricotta cake is absolutely delicious and almost tastes like custard.
A quintessential Italian Tea Cake
Italians know a thing or two about afternoon tea cakes. The cakes always seem deceptively simple and that is because they really are. Often an after-thought, these sturdy Italian cakes are a result of the cook in the house wanting to use up that freshly pressed olive oil gifted to them or putting some warm freshly made ricotta to good use after using most of it in a cannelloni bake.
Infused with citrus that also often comes from the back garden and topped with all kinds of nuts, an Italian cake warm and fresh from the oven with a gooey center is one of life's simple joys on any given day. And because they are so forgiving, you can substitute with fruit or nut from a similar profile to the one in the recipe and have a brand new cake to relish. This cake that I was meant to bake from Julia's newest (and absolutely gorgeous) cookbook - A Year Of Simple Family Food was originally meant to be a Pear Ricotta Cake. I don't do pears well in my home. They are either eaten on the first day or are a soft, mushy fruit when I invariably turn to them for baking. So, I substitute most pear recipes with apples and this has served me well.
Homegrown lemons and freshly made ricotta
For a couple of months now, I have had eleven Meyer lemons hanging from my little potted Meyer Lemon tree. Bright canary yellow, smooth-skinned fruit that gives me joy every time I step outside my front door (because that is where the pot is). Nick kept reminding me to pick the lemons or risk losing them to cockatoos but being the daredevil that I am, I left them on the tree for yet another day because they looked so beautiful there.
And then one morning in the middle of making fresh ricotta (while it was straining), I stepped out into the garden and saw a half-eaten kaffir lime lying abandoned on the grass. Further up from it, were a couple of regular lemons - also half-eaten. I sprung into action and ran to the Meyer lemon tree. It was okay. All the lemons were okay. I grabbed my secateurs and a basket from inside the house and harvested all eleven lemons before any cockatoo could get any funny ideas in their devilish heads.
And with a couple of those beautifully fragrant Meyer lemons and the warm creamy ricotta, I made this Apple Pine Nut Ricotta Cake. It was more-ish and delicious and dare I say, tasted like custard pudding with apple pieces in it. Just lovely and wholesome and homemade.
💛 More Cakes To Bake
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APPLE PINE NUT RICOTTA CAKE
- 125 g unsalted butter, softened
- 125 g raw sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200 g fresh full-fat ricotta
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 250 g self-raising flour
- 3-4 (500 g) apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-2 cm pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or soy milk
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- icing sugar, for dusting
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (convention)/160°C (fan-forced/convection).
- Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer (or with a wooden spoon). Add both eggs, one egg at a time and beat until pale and fluffy.
- Add the ricotta, vanilla, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and flour. Mix gently with a wooden spoon until just combined and flour is completely incorporated. Stir in the apple and a tablespoon or two of milk/soy milk if you feel the batter is very hard and not easy to mix. (I used about 2 tablespoons).
- Spoon into the prepared cake tin. Scatter pine nuts on top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 40-45 minutes until golden, risen and pulling away from the edge of the tin. Turn off the oven. Allow to rest in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool completely. Lift out with the baking paper and place it on a cake serving plate. Dust with icing sugar. Cut and serve.
Loved! I used slithered almonds on top as that’s what I had and it was super yum!
I made this yesterday and used the ricotta vacuum sealed in the plastic sieve which is found in the cheese section of supermarkets. The cake turned out perfectly (didn't have pine nuts). Often the deli section doesn't have the big round fresh ricotta.
Sneh, do you use the creamy full fat ricotta, or the slightly crumbly full fat one? The lady at the deli tells me the crumbly one is better for bakes. Just wanted to check. Your recipe looks amazing and I'd love to give it a go.
Thanks, Anuja! Crumbly for sure .. it adds a lovely light texture without becoming too dense, a problem I often find if you use smooth ricotta.
Oh Sneh, such a great recipe. I was looking forward to a cake recipe and I found out yours. I want to surprise my pregnant wife. What do you think if I serve the cake with some extra salted caramel sauce?
Thank you so much, I'll let you know for the results!
of course! sounds perfect. hope it turned out great xx
I made the apple, pinenut and ricotta cake
simple to make and very delicious!
I didn’t have a beater so it was perfect when you mentioned to use a wooden spoon. The cake was light and fluffy! I loved all the lemon zest
Elide, thank you for your lovely feedback! I am so happy that you loved this cake 🙂 x