by Anna on December 28, 2012
Merry Christmas and happy new year Sweet Pea readers! I hope you’ve been enjoying a wonderful festive season.
I’m in Canberra at the moment, celebrating Christmas and a host of birthdays with my family. It’s been a really wonderful break (and the first Christmas at home with everyone in my immediate family in almost a decade!) but I have a love/hate relationship with Canberra. When I’m not here, my memories are only fond. I love its familiarity, my childhood home, being able to get anywhere in 1o minutes and waking up to nothing but the birds outside my window. As soon as I get back, my head starts to hurt and I’m counting down the minutes until I can get back to Sydney. I feel the same way I did when I was 18 and so desperate to get out I thought I might suffocate if I had to live through one more Canberra winter. Why are the streets always so empty? Was it always this dry? And why would anybody settle for Lake Burley-Griffin when you could have Bondi Beach? I become a lesser version of myself too, impatient and short-tempered as I long for Sydney.
At least the Canberra quiet leaves lots of time for baking. Since we got home a few days ago, there’s been shortbread, delicious trifle with homemade vanilla bean custard and sponge cake, sugar-crusted popovers (made by my sister for Christmas breakfast), an upside down peach cake with cardamom, one disastrous attempt at friands and a beautiful ricotta, apple and lemon cake.
The last cake is of a kind that I write about here all the time – quick to make, full of simple ingredients and more suited to an afternoon cup of coffee than a fancy dinner party. I love layer cakes but these un-iced, one bowl beauties are my very favourite. This particular recipe I made with guests (hi Amy! hi Gemma! hi Emma!) due to arrive in less than two hours and a friand mixture sitting on my bench that was more oil slick than cake batter. Though the whole episode started off with a melt down (no more friands for me!) making this cake reminded me why I enjoy cooking so much – there’s nothing better than reaching for ingredients you have hanging around and turning them into something delicious for friends and family. And delicious it was. The cake is light but the ricotta and apple give it heft and save it from being dry (the apple sort of melts into the cake). My friends and I sat around for ages post-brunch shaving little slivers off the cake until there was almost nothing left. It was perfect, Canberra and all.
Ricotta, Apple and Lemon Cake (recipe adapted slightly from Food52)
Makes 1 24 cm cake
1 1/4 c plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
130 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup fresh, full-fat ricotta
zest of 1 lemon
1 medium apple, peeled and grated
1. Preheat the oven to 200′C/400′F. Butter and flour a 24 cm/9 in cake pan or line with baking paper.
2. In a bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.
3. Cream the butter and sugar in a standing mixer until pale and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add the flour mixture, ricotta, lemon zest and apple and mix on a slow-medium speed until just combined and the mixture is smooth.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is pale gold and the sides are starting to pull away from the pan. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before moving to a cooking rack to cool completely.