I adore baking, so it’s probably fitting the first recipe I’m posting here is a cake.
When I started using a steam oven, I found it quite easy working out vegetable and meat recipes. Most vegies cook beautifully in steam or combination steam ovens, as do lots of meats (especially leaner cuts). Baking, however, was a bit more hit and miss. Some baked goods - scones, breads and things with puff pastry - are hugely improved by baking with the addition of steam, however a lot of the cakes I tried came out with the texture of a steamed pudding. Not a bad thing if you’re going for a steamed pudding but not so great if you just wanted to make a regular cake!
This unassuming-looking loaf is a great exception, though. In a normal oven, it’s a lovely super-moist cake with a nice crumb (and one I’ve made a number of times), but baked in a combi-steam it becomes something else altogether – dense but not doughy, and somewhere between cake and cheesecake in texture. It’s fragrant with lemon, not too sweet and needs nothing more than a spoonful of thick cream to make it worthy of afternoon tea guests. We have also been known to eat it for breakfast with unsweetened Greek yoghurt...yoghurt makes it a breakfast food...right?
The original recipe came from here, I have slightly adapted the ingredients and changed the cooking method to suit the combi-steam. If you want to bake it in a regular oven, cook at the same temperature but add an extra 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
Happy baking, friends.
Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cake
Adapted from a recipe found at food.com
A little note about ricotta cheese: I usually buy mine cut from the wheel at an Italian deli - if you are buying it in a tub, get 500g and drain it in a fine-meshed strainer for a few hours in the fridge before using. Don’t, whatever you do, use ‘smooth’ or ‘light’ ricotta here, it will affect the texture of the finished cake.
Also, you’ll notice the cake puffs and rises in the oven, only to sink flat again once you take it out. That is completely normal for this recipe and doesn’t mean it’s a failure!
185g (3/4 cup, or 6.6oz) unsalted butter, softened
A pinch of salt
250g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar (I have used both regular white and golden/raw caster sugar with equally good results)
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
450g (1lb) firm ricotta cheese (break into 3-4 large chunks if it’s very firm)
225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F on combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam levels, 80% steam will work here. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper so it comes up above the long sides (this will help you lift it out after cooking).
2. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a bowl to combine. I’m generally opposed to sifting my dry ingredients (read: too lazy), but you can do this if you wish.
3. Cream the butter, salt and sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition.
4. Mix in the lemon zest and juice on low speed, then add the ricotta and mix briefly (try not to mix it so the ricotta is completely smooth). The mixture will probably curdle when you put the lemon in – don’t worry, it’ll come back together later.
5. Gently mix in the flour and baking powder until combined. It won’t be completely smooth because of the ricotta but try not to leave any big clumps of flour.
6. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until it’s golden brown, puffed and tests clean with a skewer. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then remove using the baking paper and cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Serve barely warm or at room temperature with thick cream or yoghurt. The cake will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge and leftovers can be reheated in the steam oven at 120˚C/combination steam.