Plum-Almond Ricotta Cake

“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”  Julia Childs

This easy but elegant cake has it all: it is gorgeous, moist, gluten free, not too sweet and topped with ripe, plump plums. The ground almonds and almond paste marry well with the fruit while the orange zest and juice adds a bright note to the ricotta, a perfect pairing of flavors. The almond meal gives the cake some toothy texture and plenty of healthy protein so you can eat it without guilt. A sprinkling of sliced almonds adds crunch and another layer of almond flavor. This is a lovely, gluten free cake that is delicious for brunch or as a special dessert.  Substitute peaches, nectarines or figs instead of the plums. Almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.

Plum-Almond Ricotta Cake

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 teaspoon almond extract or paste
    3/4 cup sugar
    zest of 1 Navel orange
    2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice
    4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
    10 ounces whole milk ricotta, drain it over cheesecloth overnight if you want it drier like the Italians do.  I omitted this step.
    2 1/2 cups almond meal
  • 6 ripe plums, pitted, each sliced in 8
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 325F.

Generously butter a 9″ springform pan.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Reserve.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, orange zest and almond paste.
Beat in the orange juice, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
Beat in the ricotta and the almond meal.
Gently fold in the egg whites.  Do not overmix.
Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Top with the sliced plums in a concentric pattern, overlapping each row of plum slices slightly to create a pleasing pattern. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes to an hour until center springs back when pressed.
Cool in pan. When ready to serve, remove sides.

I love Taylor & Colledge Natural Almond Extract Paste which I get locally at Wegman’s supermarkets. It gives extraordinary almond flavor in baking.

Still Life with Plums, 2013, oil on canvas
By Johanne Lamarche
Private Collection

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