Friday, March 7, 2014

Tuscan Wine Cake

This is a refined, elegant variety of Italian cheesecake made with ricotta cheese. (It's completely different from the classic NY cheesecake made with cream cheese.)


2 sticks plus 5 Tb unsalted butter (UK: 1 block/250 gr plus 50 gr), softened (plus extra to butter pan)
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 cups whole milk Ricotta (UK: 2 250 gr tubs)
4 large eggs
1/3 cup vin santo or dry sherry
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
Rum soaked sultanas
2 Tb pine nuts
1 to 2 Tb confectioner's sugar (UK: Icing sugar)

Tip 1: If you don't routinely keep a jar of sultanas soaking in dark rum (shame on you!) then put some up to soak overnight or a few hours ahead of time. The sultanas should have time to absorb the rum and plump up before use. I use Mount Gay Barbados Rum which is a golden dark rum.
Tip 2: Make sure you take the butter out and let it sit at room temperature on the kitchen counter to soften.
Tip 3: You can use either a stand mixer or a sturdy hand mixer but gently please, don't overbeat.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180C/160C Fan
2. Butter and lightly flour a nonstick 9 inch springform pan
3. In mixer bowl/large bowl combine and beat butter and sugar then add ricotta and beat until fluffy.
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then with mixer at slowest speed add the wine.
5. Measure flour and baking powder into a small bowl, then slowly and thoroughly beat them into the batter.
6. Remove bowl from stand mixer if you're using one. By hand with a rubber or silicone spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle 2 or 3 Tb of drained soaked sultanas on top - amount is to personal taste - then gently fold into the batter.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and lightly smooth. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top and place into the center of the oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is firm but springy to the touch.  When I checked my cake at 30 min it needed a bit more time and to be turned around to brown evenly. An additional 5 min was all it needed.
9. Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack. Cool before removing the cake from the pan.
10. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top before serving if desired.