Damson and blackberry ricotta cake

Cooking with fruit is one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen. Whether it’s making jam, compote, crumbles, tarts or cakes, it always feels like a wonderful celebration of the season and the produce that grows here in the UK. This cake is a fantastic base or blank canvas to top with whatever seasonal fruit you have – berries and stone fruit are particularly good, but I’m sure apples and pears would work well, too. I actually made this back in September with some beautiful blackberries and damsons, but I’m tempted to make it again over Christmas using frozen cherries (available in most large supermarkets). You can also play around with the flavourings of the cake – if you’re making it with raspberries, change the cinnamon for lemon zest, or if you make it with cherries, add in orange zest and amaretto in lieu of the cinnamon and vanilla!

Ingredients

140g unsalted butter, softened
220g caster sugar
3 large eggs
165g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
250g ricotta
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g fruit (I used damsons and blackberries) tossed in 1/2 tbsp plain flour
Demerara sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C or 160°C fan. Grease a deep, 8-inch cake tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer (or by using a hand-held electric whisk and a large bowl), beat the butter on a medium speed for a few minutes until really soft and light. Add in the sugar, and beat again for another 3-5 minutes, until very pale, light and creamy.
  3. Next, add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well in between each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate any unmixed batter. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix gently until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and mix again for ten seconds.
  4. Add in the ricotta, cinnamon and vanilla extract and beat very gently to incorporate. Transfer the batter into the tin and smooth it into an even layer. Scatter the fruit over the cake and press it in very lightly. Bake the cake for 40 minutes, and then quickly sprinkle over a scattering of demerara sugar whilst it’s still in the oven. Close the oven door and bake for another 25-30 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean (except for the fruit juices!). Leave to cool for about 15-20 minutes in the tin before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Dust with icing sugar, to serve.

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