HAZELNUT, RICOTTA AND APPLE CAKE

This is one of my favourite cakes to make, as it is simple, but also a little special with the layers of ricotta and apples hiding between the hazelnut cake. I learned to make this whilst living in Italy where the ricotta was so fresh it was still warm from being made only hours before. Sometimes we would add sultanas to the ricotta or use orange zest instead of lemon. It is truly wonderful served warm, but also quite satisfying for breakfast straight from the fridge with an espresso in hand. 

Makes one 21cm round cake

Hazelnut cake:

120g unsalted butter, softened

200g caster sugar

2 eggs

125 ml milk

225g self raising flour

80g ground hazelnuts

Ricotta mixture:

250g ricotta

2 egg yolks

30g caster sugar

1tsp of vanilla extract or the seeds of a vanilla pod

Zest of one lemon

Apples:

1 large or two small apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Juice of half lemon

30g caster sugar

Hazelnut Topping:

1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 tbsp caster sugar

80g chopped hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line a 21cm round cake tin.

2. For the hazelnut cake, beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Add the milk and mix well. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture seems lumpy or not coming together, once the dry ingredients are added, the batter will be smooth and well-incorporated. 

3. Sift in the flour and add the hazelnuts. Gently fold into the batter until well incorporated. Pour in 3/4 of the cake batter into the tin.

4. For the ricotta filling, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined and spread over cake batter almost to the edges.

5. Combine the apples in a small bowl with sugar and lemon and gently press into the ricotta mixture. Leave any extra juice and sugar in the bowl.

6. Spread the remainder of the hazelnut batter over the cake to cover.

7. For the hazelnut topping, mix the butter and sugar until smooth.  Combine with the chopped hazelnuts and scatter over the cake. 

8. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until cake springs backs when touched. Leave cake to cool slightly in the tin and then turn out and serve warm. If not serving immediately, keep the cake in the fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.