strawberry ricotta loaf

Before Christmas I reserved a copy of Danielle Alvarez's new book, Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking, from the library. It finally arrived and I've been perusing it on my train journey home from work. I've bookmarked many recipes, but this recipe for
a strawberry and ricotta loaf stood out to me. It's made with spelt flour, which is a bit hard to find so I did a wholemeal/plain flour combination instead and I reduced the quantities to fit my handy-dandy half size loaf tin.

I've made a few strawberry topped cakes and sometimes the strawberries can dry out and get a bit tough during the baking process so I macerated the strawberry slices in a bit of sugar and lemon juice to keep them soft and juicy.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf cake. For 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.

Strawberry and ricotta loaf
150g flour (I used 40g wholemeal/110g plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch fine sea salt
40ml milk
65g ricotta
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
165g strawberries 
2½ tsp lemon zest 
1 tsp lemon juice
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly warmer (but not melted)
150g caster sugar
1 tablespoon raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional. Line a small loaf tin with baking paper, allowing the sides of the paper to extend past the edges of the tin.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and ricotta. Set both bowls aside.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl (do not whisk) and add the vanilla extract. Set aside. Hull and chop half of the strawberries. Place in a small bowl and combine them with the lemon zest and 1 tsp of the caster sugar. Hull and cut the remaining strawberries into rounds. Place in a small bowl, then sprinkle over 1 tsp of the caster sugar and the lemon juice. Set both lots of strawberries aside, keeping them separate.

Put the butter and the remaining caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on a high speed until the mixture is light, fluffy and almost white in colour. This will take about 5–7 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides as needed.

With the machine running, add the eggs, letting one slide in at a time, and waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding in the next.

Stop the machine, add in half the flour mixture, and turn the machine on to low speed to just combine. Add in the milk-ricotta mixture and mix until combined. Stop the machine again and add in the remaining flour mixture. Return the machine to a low speed and mix until it all just comes together. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and gently fold in the chopped strawberries and lemon zest.

Pour the batter into the tin; level the batter and top with the strawberry rounds. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the strawberries and bake on the centre rack of the preheated 180°C conventional oven for 70–80 minutes,or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the tin before turning it out. Slice and serve.

I love ricotta cakes because they're always so tender with a lovely crumb and this cake was no exception. It was simply delicious and I can't wait to make the cake again using other fruits like blueberries, plums or rhubarb or even blood orange.

Thanks for the recipe, Danielle.

See you all again next week with some baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



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