pear hazelnut ricotta cake - xmas week 2020

Welcome to Xmas week 2020. For Xmas week this year, much of my inspiration came from Instagram. A few people I follow featured versions of this pear hazelnut ricotta cake first made many years ago by an Italian pastry chef, Salvatore de Riso. With so many recipes online, some in English and some in Italian, I decided to use one from Phil Khoury.
The cake is a hazelnut sponge filled with a rum flavoured pear and ricotta cream filling. What's not to love?

The sponge cakes are delicate and probably best made the day before using for ease of handling. The candied hazelnut topping is an optional extra. I decided to get a little fancy for Christmas but they kept melting in my hot kitchen.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17 cm cakeFor all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Pear, hazelnut ricotta cake - inspired by Sal de Riso
Hazelnut sponge
125g eggs
100g caster sugar
125g roasted hazelnut meal
50g plain flour
Pinch salt
40g melted butter, hot
Pear filling
175g ripe William pears (2 small pears)
50g caster sugar
1 tbs water
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped
7 ml dark rum
Ricotta Cream
250g ricotta, strained
250g whipping cream (35% fat)
50g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod, scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
To serve – icing sugar
Hazelnut sponge
Heat an oven to 180°C and arrange a rack in the middle. Grease and flour two 17cm cake tins then line the bases with baking paper. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat until the mixture becomes very pale and fluffy and triples in size, about 5 minutes. Combine the hazelnut meal, flour and salt and fold in at a time. Lastly fold in the butter and mix until just incorporated.
Evenly pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and level off. Bake until browned and springy on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Oven temperatures do vary, so if you’re finding the cakes colour a bit early, cover the cakes with foil for the remainder of the bake
Pear filling
Peel, core and dice the pear into 1-2 cm cubes. Place the diced pear, sugar, water, vanilla seeds and the scraped vanilla pod and rum, if using, into a small pan. Place over a medium heat then simmer until the pears begin to cook and release liquid and soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain the pears reserving the syrup, transfer the pears to a bowl, and cool completely.
Ricotta Cream
Whip the ricotta with 25g sugar until very smooth and creamy. Gently whip the cream with the remaining sugar and the vanilla seeds or paste until soft peaks form. Fold a third of the ricotta into the whipped cream mixture, then fold the whipped cream mixture back into the ricotta mixture until just combined. Gently fold through the cooled pears.
Line the sides of the same cake pan you used to bake the cake with baking paper or acetate. Place one cake in the cake pan, then drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of pear syrup evenly over the cake. Spoon over the ricotta mixture and smooth over with a spatula. Drizzle the rest of the reserved pear syrup over the base of the top layer of sponge and carefully place the cake on top of the ricotta filling.

You can chill the cake for several hours in the fridge. Remove the cake from the pan, dust with icing sugar, then cut carefully into slices with a sharp knife and serve.
I didn't get a chance to try the cake because it disappeared so quickly but I was assured it was delicious. 

See you all again tomorrow with some more baking for Xmas week 2020. 

Bye for now, 


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