baking/ celebration/ gluten free/ some for now + some for later/ this is life

Apple + Ricotta Cake; inspired by Italy

apple ricotta cake with buckwheat almonds hazelnuts cacao nibs maple syrup recipe sweetpea darlingheart

I do love to tell a story; mostly to myself, just something private, inside my own mind. My usual way of dreaming up a story is by using a food to inspire the dream. Something about a food will flicker in my imagination and craft around itself a scene; a feeling, a place and a moment in time.

I suppose I am just a dreamer – and think if you can’t do something in reality, then you may as well have a little dream and embody it, as best you can, wherever you are.

sliced apple cake with ricotta filling gluten free recipe sweetpea darlingheart

I wish we could all go to Italy, and eat a slice of this cake lovingly prepared by our grandmother, from the ancient kitchen inside her childhood house on the mountainside; and that we could all sip chianti and watch the sun go down, basking in that special kind of light that I just know would be there.

But even if I am just sitting at my dining table, or in my lounge room, perhaps there is some part of this feeling I can still capture, a slice of comfort or warmth, or a calm contentedness, to go alongside my cup of coffee.

Here is a cake filled with that kind of warmth and comfort, that gives you a big hug and maybe even makes you feel like your Italian grandma made it, even if you don’t have an Italian grandma or have never been to Italy. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being fanciful. I am a dreamer after all.

apple sliced ricotta filling cake sultanas christmas hazelnut cacao nib recipe sweetpea darlingheartApple Ricotta Cake Slice Hazelnut Crumble Recipe sweetpea darlingheart

While I was eating a slice of this cake I suddenly thought that this could be something lovely to eat at Christmas time. A slice of this on Christmas morning, in your pyjamas, served with a cup of coffee and a few presents would be a gorgeous way to start the day.

Apple + Ricotta Cake

with a hazelnut + cacao nib crumble

There is something quite special about this cake, with the succulent centre from the ricotta and apple, and the crunchy, caramelly cacao nibs and hazelnuts on top… and I haven’t tried it, but I’m almost certain that if you added a little brandy to the ricotta filling before baking you would have yourself something very festive indeed.

This cake was inspired by my lovely friend Julia who has just released her first cookbook ‘Ostro’  – it is  a celebration of all those gorgeous traditions that you maybe never had, but somehow feel a part of you anyway.

I have taken Julia’s gorgeous inspiration and made my own version; which is gluten, grain and largely sugar free – but still absolutely delicious. I thoroughly recommend the crunchy topping, it delightfully offsets the soft, ricotta interior.


inspired by and adapted from Ricotta and Apple Hazelnut Cake in ‘Ostro’ by Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Serves 16

For the filling:
325g ricotta
zest 1 lemon
2 egg yolks
1 tbs vanilla paste
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup (65g) sultanas

2 granny smith apples, cored
juice 1/2 lemon

For the topping:
3/4 cup (85g) roughly chopped hazelnuts
2 tbs cacao nibs
1 tbs maple syrup
pinch of salt

For the cake batter:
1 cup (95g) almond meal
1 cup (135g) buckwheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp liquid stevia
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tbs vanilla paste
juice 1/2 lemon

drizzle of olive oil
drizzle of maple syrup


Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin.

In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the ricotta filling, except for the sultanas, until smooth. Fold through the sultanas and set aside.

Thinly slice the apples and toss in a small bowl with the lemon juice. Set aside for now.

In another small bowl stir together the topping ingredients and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the almond meal, buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the liquid ingredients and stir together until well combined.

Pour half of the cake batter into the bottom of the tin. Arrange half of the apple slices on top of the batter. Spread the ricotta mixture over the apple slices, using the back of a spoon to smooth it into an even layer.

Pour the second half of the cake batter into the tin on top of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the hazelnut and cacao nib mixture, and arrange the remaining apple slices as you wish.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, then lightly drizzle the apple slices with a touch of olive oil and maple syrup. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes away with just a few small crumbs.

Allow to cool for at least half an hour in the tin before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.


This cake would be excellent served on Christmas Day as a lighter, but no less special, alternative to a traditional fruit cake. A very Italian Christmas, wherever you may be…

apple sliced ricotta filling cake sultanas christmas hazelnut cacao nib recipe sweetpea darlingheart apple ricotta cake gluten free hazelnut cacao nib recipe sweetpea darlingheartIf you’re keen on a slice of something sweet for breakfast (as myself and the Italians are) you may also like to try my Blueberry, Lemon and Coconut Cake, or a slice of Äppelkaka : Swedish Apple Cake; both perfectly delicious breakfast options, at least in my humble opinion.


Apple + Ricotta Cake; inspired by Italy

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 1 1/4 hours

Ingredients

  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 325g ricotta
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbs vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/3 cup (65g) sultanas
  • 2 granny smith apples, cored
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • FOR THE TOPPING:
  • 3/4 cup (85g) roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 tbs cacao nibs
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • FOR THE CAKE BATTER:
  • 1 cup (95g) almond meal
  • 1 cup (135g) buckwheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp liquid stevia
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla paste
  • juice 1/2 lemon
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of maple syrup

Instructions

1

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 20cm round springform cake tin.

2

In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the ricotta filling, except for the sultanas, until smooth. Fold through the sultanas and set aside.

3

Thinly slice the apples and toss in a small bowl with the lemon juice. Set aside for now.

4

In another small bowl stir together the topping ingredients and set aside.

5

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the almond meal, buckwheat flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the liquid ingredients and stir together until well combined.

6

Pour half of the cake batter into the bottom of the tin. Arrange half of the apple slices on top of the batter. Spread the ricotta mixture over the apple slices, using the back of a spoon to smooth it into an even layer.

7

Pour the second half of the cake batter into the tin on top of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the hazelnut and cacao nib mixture, and arrange the remaining apple slices as you wish.

8

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, then lightly drizzle the apple slices with a touch of olive oil and maple syrup. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes away with just a few small crumbs.

9

Allow to cool for at least half an hour in the tin before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Margaux Shops For You
    September 28, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Just discovered your blog via Julia Ostro’s instagram, I love it!! Pinned all the recipes, can’t wait to try one of your GF cakes 🙂

    • Reply
      sweetpeadarlingheart
      September 28, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you Margaux! Julia is such a lovely gal, and makes such beautiful things – it’s easy to feel inspired by her. Hope you enjoy the cakes, I’d love to hear what you make! xx Amber

  • Reply
    Jacqui
    November 16, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    This cake sounds (& looks!) amazing…could I sub spelt flour for the buckwheat (I have a major aversion to the taste of buckwheat!)?? Thanks, jacqui

    • Reply
      sweetpeadarlingheart
      November 28, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Hi Jacqui,

      Sorry for the late reply, I only just saw your question! Yes, you could definitely substitute spelt flour if you don’t like buckwheat! The original recipe uses plain flour, I just used buckwheat as it’s one of my favourite gluten free options, but I’m sure spelt would work beautifully 😉

      Good luck, happy baking!!!
      x Amber

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