Although this is a pottery website, I always suspected I might post a recipe now and then. Anyone who knows me knows I love to cook.
So here we are...first recipe post.
I'm not sure how I found Carla on Instagram, probably from something that cookbook wirter and food blogger Rachel Roddy mentioned, or something Carla commented on Rachel's post...Instagram is like that, a rabbit hole that finds you other rabbit holes, that brings you all kinds of treats to see, and introduces you to people and places.
You can find Carla on Instagram as @Carla_Tomasi. She is a home cook, apparently an amazing gardner, a preserver, and she teaches at Rome's Latteria Studio. There is a lovely short interview with Carla here in the Guardian.
I don't know Carla in the real world, but I enjoy spending time with her on Instagram, and when I saw her Cassola, I knew I wanted to make it. I love anything made with ricotta. This is a wonderfully simple and straightforward cake that lets the ricotta shine. It is incidentally gluten free--and while I have mad love for gluten, it's especially nice these days to have something up your sleeve that can be enjoyed by those who can't or won't eat it.
When I posted this picture of her cake, so many people asked for the recipe, I asked Carla if I might post it and she graciously said yes. Below is the recipe and information she sent, in her words.
I will add that I used her method, to make a fluffier cake. I actually did use a springform pan, because it's the cake pan that works best for me, and that was fine too. I baked it at 400 F for ten minutes, then at 350 for 25-30 minutes--it was , as Carla says, wobbly, but following the rest in the warm oven for 30 minutes it got to where it should be. And I agree with her suggestion that it is best the next day after a rest in the fridge.
I made it the plainest way, and next time I will try it with bits of dark chocolate, and perhaps a little grated orange rind, because everyone in my house loves the combination of chocolate bits and ricotta. Be sure to drain your ricotta if it is wettish--sometimes I rest mine in a sieve, and sometimes if I am pressed for time I lay it out on paper towels and blot at it.
A ricotta cake, by Carla Tomasi
I must admit that I had never heard of Cassola till I watched an episode of Kasher (kosher),a programme on Jewish-Roman cuisine. Apart from dietary laws and food restrictions the food overlaps…think of artichokes, marinated courgettes and aubergines, long cooking meat stew (stracotto) and so forth.
Well, I was smitten at first sight. A dreamy ricotta cake with 3 ingredients: the mother of all-ricotta-cheesecakes.
I learned that before the advent of domestic ovens (households relayed on communal baking/roasting of food at the local bakery) the original Cassola was cooked in a frying pan and styled into one big soft frittatona.
This is how I have seen it made on tv: the all-in-one method of placing the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix, stir, pour in cake tin, bake. This is how I made it the first time but I prefer a lighter textured cake so I whip up sugar and eggs first.
As you can imagine a slice of Cassola would partner well with roasted figs, a cherry compote, roasted apricots or tumble a riot of berries on the top for a stunning centerpiece.
Cassola, like all baked cheesecakes, would benefits from a day of resting, so if time allows bake it the day before. Leave to rest overnight in a cool larder or under refrigeration. Deep baking tin 20/22 cm like a springform
Baking time 200c (392 f) (fan assisted oven) for 10 minutes and then 160c (320f) 30/35 minutes.
550 gr cow’s milk ricotta-well drained- so I would buy 600 gr
5 medium size whole eggs
300 gr granulated sugar
Zest from a lemon
Optional additions/flavourings: orange zest, cinnamon, chocolate shards, Sambuca, rum-soaked raisins...
The day before or in the morning for an afternoon bake: place the ricotta in a fine meshed sieve or a colander lined with some kitchen paper and leave to drain the whey off.
Once the ricotta is well drained sieve it or whizz it in the food processor till smooth.
Spoon into a large mixing bowl.
Grease the cake tin and then line it with buttered greaseproof paper. Lightly dust the inside of the tin with some plain flour and tip excess off. This will give the cake a fine crust. ( For a totally gluten free cake just line the tin with greaseproof).
Break the eggs into a bowl, add the granulated sugar and the lemon zest.
Whisk them up in a food mixer (or with a hand held electric whisk) till the ribbon stage and then keep whisking some more until trebled in volume.
Now pour a third of the egg mixture on top of the ricotta and loosen the texture with a wire whisk. Once the ricotta looks creamy gently fold in the rest of the egg mixture. It will be liquid and airy and that is how it is meant to be.
Pour into the tin and then place into the pre-heated oven. I would advise to check the cake every five minutes after the first 25 of baking because not all ovens are the same and would be a pity to overcook it.
The cake is ready when it feels just firm to the touch but with still a bit of a wobble about it. Turn the oven off, open the door and leave the cake in to settle for about 20 minutes.
Give it a light dusting of icing sugar before serving.
Keeps well for few days if kept under refrigeration..actually nice and fudgey after a day or two.