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I was forced to make this cake.

Last weekend, I tried to make a batch of yogurt and the milk separated on me during the initial heating of the milk. Rather than throw it away, I kept heating it, added some salt and a touch of white vinegar, and ended up with a beautiful batch of ricotta cheese, with perhaps the best consistency I ever achieved making ricotta. Well. It’s generally not hard for me to find uses for homemade cheese, but with some very ripe, needs-to-be-used-today pineapple in the fridge, I felt that all signs were pointing toward me making some ricotta cake with pineapple. I have a recipe for ricotta cake with blueberries that’s been raising its recipe hand, saying “pick me! pick me!” for some time now, and I thought pineapple would work instead of blueberries with the not-too-sweet, moist cake. My hunches were right.

Homemade cheese is not necessary to make a ricotta cake, a traditional Italian cake somewhat similar to a cheesecake crossed with a muffin. (A very loose description, indeed.) I often hear the texture compared to that of a pound cake: very dense and moist, a great vehicle for stronger fruit flavors. You build the cake in layers, starting with a yellow cake batter, then fruit, finished with a sweet egg and ricotta mixture. Here’s the blueberry version from Stacey Snacks; as she mentions, I think you could use almost any fruit and have a nice treat. However, at this time of year, when pineapple is golden and ripe in (almost) every grocery store in the land, let me lead you in that direction. The sweet tanginess of the pineapple was delicious. If you want to go a little crazy, try a bit of coconut mixed in or on top. This is an easy, versatile cake, equally at home on a dessert or brunch menu, and you won’t be disappointed.

Ricotta Cake with Pineapple

For the Cake:

  • 4 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. pineapple, cut in small chunks

For the Topping:

  • 1 1/4 c. ricotta
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; line a 9″ round springform pan with parchment paper.

With a mixer, cream together the butter and 2/3 c. sugar until light, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the butter mixture with the milk and combine by hand, just until mixed. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and spread to cover the bottom of the pan; dot with pineapple.

In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, 1/3 c. sugar and vanilla until smooth. Dollop the ricotta mixture over the pineapple layer and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 mins., until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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