Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Strawberry Basil Compote – layers of lemon olive oil ricotta cake, strawberry basil compote and mascarpone frosting.
Last week when I was in New York for the Today Show, Ryan and I were able to join my dad and stepmom (who were also in town for work) at ABC Kitchen in West Village. My sister, who just moved away from New York, has raved about this restaurant for years now. I was so excited to finally go and see what the hype was all about.
ABC Kitchen is a farm-to-table, seasonal, American restaurant. The dishes all taste so fresh and flavorful. And while I loved everything we ordered, one dish in particular stood out to me: the housemade ricotta with strawberry compote and grilled bread. I couldn’t stop myself from going back for seconds and thirds. The flavors were both light and decadent. And there’s really nothing better than homemade ricotta. Have you tried it? It’s so creamy! There was also the most delicious strawberry compote with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. I literally took one bite, closed my eyes and immediately envisioned these flavors in a cake.
If you remember, you know I’m one to throw any kind of cheese into my cakes, like my Gingerbread Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Frosting and my Honey Fig Goat Cheese Cake. I know it may sound weird, but cheese (well, certain kinds) and cake are made for each other!
As I downed my second and third slices of the ricotta strawberry toast, I started coming up with my cake.
I’ve never done an olive oil cake, so that seemed like the perfect place to start.
At this point, when I develop a new recipe, I usually start with one of my other basic cake recipes as a base. My white and yellow cakes are great bases for a cake that I want to be tender and fluffy. My vanilla bean cake is a great base for something I want to be more dense. For this cake, I knew I needed some of that density to hold together all the ricotta I wanted to add, so I worked off my vanilla bean cake.
In the vanilla bean cake layers, I have a cup of buttermilk and a cup of yogurt. I replaced both of those with ricotta cheese. Yup, there’s two full cups of ricotta cheese in the cake layers! I then replaced the butter with oil and added lemon zest.
The texture of this cake is incredible. It’s slightly more dense, but not quite like a pound cake, and it’s super moist. There’s definitely not a strong olive oil taste, just a hint.
Strawberry Basil Compote
For the compote, I used fresh strawberries, a bit of sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, a little cornstarch and some finely chopped fresh basil. There’s just a 1/2 teaspoon of basil. You don’t need a lot to make an impact. Plus, too much will make the compote taste bitter.
You’ll want to make this compote a day or two ahead of when you decide to assemble your cake. It needs to cool and sit in the refrigerator for a bit to thicken. But remember, even though it thickens a little, it’s still not solid enough to hold your cake layers on it’s own. Don’t use too much of the compote between the layers and always pipe a rim around the edge of each cake layer as you stack so it prevents the compote from spilling out. Save the remaining compote to serve on the site of each slice of cake.
And finally, for the frosting, I used mascarpone so we could have a little more of the tart cheese flavor with the sweet compote. Instead of whipped mascarpone frosting like I’ve used in the past, this is more like a cream cheese frosting, but with mascarpone. It’s sweetened with some powdered sugar and given the slightest hint of lemon with some lemon extract.
As you dig into this cake, I hope you enjoy every single element of it on it’s own, as well as an ensemble of flavors. I think each element pairs so well with the others, but is equally decadent on it’s own.
Can’t wait to hear what you think!