It’s my birthday. As every year, I am here to share the cake that will cheer up my special day. My birthday is my favourite day throughout the year, along with Christmas. Even if I am 35 today, I’m still a child at heart. I love surprises, breakfast in bed, a rose cut from the garden at the crack of dawn. I am an enthusiast by nature, excited by small gifts and especially by the idea that someone spent a pinch of his time thinking about me and wishing me happy birthday. I love to have people around to celebrate, being it my day, a friend’s achievement, a holiday or even a glorious Sunday family meal.
It is now a ritual. I choose my birthday cake and I bake it on my own, infusing into the recipe all the past year, success and failure, smiles and tears, breathtaking moments and days I’d rather forget. It’s like writing on your diary or filling up a time capsule for your future self. When I read old posts here on the blog and stumble upon one of my birthday cakes, I have the exact photo of who I was, I recognize moods and expectations, excitement and ongoing projects.
Naked cake with ricotta, mascarpone and fresh fruit
Are you sharing all your recipes during classes and on the blog? A woman asked me a few days ago. Of course I am. I don’t trust secret recipes. Recipes are meant to be shared, to evolve into something new, different, sometimes better. Recipes are infused with the aromas of every kitchen, shaped by the hands of men and women following your instructions. They grow and travel through time.
This is the reason why for my birthday cake I used a recipe which I got from Fatima, a Moroccan woman I met some time ago. Sharing recipes is the core of my cooking philosophy, and the cake was too delicious not to be replicated again: it is crumbly and moist, headily scented with the zest and juice of a lemon. She measures all the ingredients with a finely decorated glass for mint tea, I used a more prosaic glass to provide you with exact amounts.
Her cake was a ciambellone, a ring shaped cake we usually have for breakfast. I decided to bake the batter into two round cake pans to prepare a naked cake, the new dessert trend with unfrosted edges which expose the flavours inside. This is what I appreciate in people: honesty and authenticity.
The filling is as simple as it appears: ricotta and mascarpone are whipped together with a pinch of sugar. To decorate the cake I chose fresh fruit that I bought at the market in the morning: pear, peaches and plums from a local farm, intertwined with red and black currants we found in Alto Adige.
Ricotta and mascarpone naked cake
For the cake:
- 2 eggs
- 200 g of sugar
- 125 ml of milk
- 125 ml of light extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 organic lemon
- 250 g of plain flour
- 16 g of baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
For the filling and decoration
- 350 g of fresh sheep milk ricotta
- 350 g of mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- Fresh fruit
- Beat eggs and sugar until light and pale. Pour into the batter milk, olive oil and lemon juice and stir to incorporate.
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and fold them into the batter with the grated zest of a lemon.
- Grease with butter and dust with flour two 15 cm round pans. Scrape the batter into the pans and bake at 180°C for about 30 minutes, until golden.
- Let the cakes cool down completely. You can make them even the day before and keep them in the fridge wrapped in foil.
- Prepare the filling: beat together ricotta, mascarpone and sugar until thick and silky.
- Cut out the domes of the cakes. Using a piping bag, cover with half of the ricotta and mascarpone filling one of the cakes, then gently lay the other cake on top. Cover the cake with the left mascarpone and ricotta and use a spatula to make it smooth. Decorate with fresh fruit.
- Keep it in the fridge for a few hours before serving the cake. Happy birthday!
- Learn to make a perfect naked cake here, here and here.
- Let’s celebrate with past birthday cakes: a cheesecake, a mixed berry and rhubarb crostata, a poppy seed buckwheat cake, a torta Margherita with limoncello from last year.
And now tell me which is your favourite birthday cake and if you like to bake your own cake or you prefer to be surprised by someone else. In the meantime I am taking half a day off, there’s a surprise dinner waiting for me!