This Combi Steam Chocolate and Ricotta Cake recipe calls for nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar to make it fancy enough for Easter dessert.
This combi steam chocolate cake recipe is really a story of two cakes: rich dark chocolate batter which bakes up almost biscuit-like at the edges, and a luscious but not too sweet ricotta filling. The batters marble together to create a gorgeous fudgy and rich dessert with the perfect amount of crunch.
It needs nothing but powdered sugar by way of adornment, though I’ll be baking it for Easter so mine will be decorated with even more chocolate in the form of eggs. That part is entirely up to you – if you can’t be bothered with Easter eggs no one would be the wiser.
Ricotta Cake heaven
Probably a decade ago I ordered a very humble slice of cake at a Greek café I’d heard about. The handwritten display tag in front of it was simply titled Chocolate/Ricotta. Craggy and damp looking, it was definitely not the showpiece of the cabinet. Yet something about it called my name, and it was so unusual I couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. Softly yielding, rich but not too heavy and those crunchy little hills and valleys on top were textural dynamite.
I went home and tried to recreate something like it with limited success. All my attempts were either too dense or too biscuity and after a while I gave up. I didn’t stop thinking about it though. In fact, ever since I started developing steam oven recipes I’ve had ‘combi steam chocolate/ricotta cake’ written on my list of things to try. I’d even tried to reinvent my favourite Lemon Ricotta Cake to make a chocolate version but no one in my house, including me, liked it enough to repeat the experiment.
Last week, though, I had some ricotta to use up. With no citrus on hand for the aforementioned Lemon Ricotta Cake, I turned to Google for inspiration and what should pop up but a recipe for the exact cake I’d wanted to bake all those years ago.
The owner of the café I’d visited had shared her recipe in a newspaper competition even before she opened the café, and another food blogger had saved it and recently posted the recipe on her site. A few tweaks to see if the cake would work in my steam oven resulted in the beauty you see photographed. It might have been a long time coming but I think it was worth the wait.
Happy steam oven cooking, and Happy Easter all. See you here again soon.
Combi Steam Chocolate and Ricotta Cake Recipe
Makes one 26cm/10” cake, to serve 8-12
This is the dessert which started me down the path of all other cakes involving ricotta, and it’s not an exaggeration when I tell you I’ve been thinking about making it for years - it well and truly pre-dates my steam oven baking obsession. Some people use their brains for complex intellectual things. Me? Cake. I’m glad though, because it led us here.
You’ll need a 26cm/10” tin for this cake. I used a springform tin but it’s sturdy enough when baked that you could turn it out of a regular tin just fine. If you only have a smaller tin, say 20cm/8”, I would recommend reducing the recipe quantities by a third and adjusting the baking time down to around an hour (I have not tried this yet but will the next time I make it).
Use a fairly wet ricotta cheese for this recipe rather than the firm/drained variety cut from the wheel. It needs the extra moisture to make the texture right.
If you can’t find self raising flour where you live, you can use plain/all purpose flour. Add 2 ½ tsp baking powder to the chocolate batter and 1 tsp baking powder to the ricotta filling to substitute for the raising agent in the flour.
For the chocolate batter:
125g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
3 large (60g) eggs
220g (1 cup) caster sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 ½ cups here, I found the lesser amount perfect)
300g (2 cups) self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
For the ricotta filling:
500g (1.1 lb) fairly wet ricotta cheese, at room temperature
125g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
3 large (60g) eggs
150g (1 cup) self raising flour
1. Preheat oven to 170⁰C/338⁰F, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 50-60% humidity. Grease a 26cm/10” round cake tin and line the base with silicone baking paper.
2. Start the chocolate batter: melt the chocolate and butter together until smooth, either in a double boiler or using short, low power bursts in the microwave, stirring in between to ensure it doesn’t burn. Set aside to cool slightly while you start the ricotta filling.
3. Start the ricotta filling: put the ricotta, butter and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until it’s well combined (you aren’t looking for super light and fluffy here, so don’t let it go too long). Add the sugar and mix until it’s not grainy anymore, then add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. It will probably look curdled by this stage, but don’t worry. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the flour. Scrape into another bowl, set it aside and rinse your mixer bowl so you can return to the chocolate batter.
4. To finish the chocolate batter: put the eggs and sugar into the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until they’re thickened and creamy. Add the melted chocolate/butter and mix on low until it’s just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the flour and salt. It will be fairly stiff - don’t overmix here or it will become thick and tough.
5. Put two thirds of the chocolate batter into the base of the prepared tin and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Put all the ricotta filling on top of this, spreading it right to the edges. Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining chocolate batter on top, very gently pressing them down so they are fairly level with the ricotta filling. Take a butter knife and gently drag it through the chocolate and ricotta mixtures to marble them together a bit.
6. Bake the cake until it tests clean with a skewer, approximately an hour and a half. Allow to cool for an hour or two in the tin, then turn out onto a plate. You can serve it slightly warm or at room temperature, dusted with powdered sugar and decorated with Easter eggs if that’s your thing.
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And if you’re after more delicious combi steam baking recipes, the Cakes and Baking Index page has plenty. Try the Simple Steam Oven Chocolate Cake (it really is simple, and just as Easter appropriate as today’s recipe). Or the 12 Minute Steam Oven Brownies (they were my go-to Easter gift last year). Or, if you just can’t face any more chocolate this week, go with the Combi Steam Lemon Ricotta Cake. Still my all-time favourite cake for the steam oven, I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t like it.