Ricotta Beet Cake


Sep 12

Ricotta Beet Cake – rich and moist ricotta cake layers, filled with a whipped homemade ricotta filling, and covered in the most gorgeous and delicious beet buttercream.

Like each and every one of my cakes, I’m just as excited to share this cake with you as all the others. I know the flavor sounds “interesting,” as most of you have described and it is. It’s so interesting and it’s so good!

Cake Inspiration

I love getting cake inspiration from unlikely places. Remember my Lemon Ricotta Olive Oil Cake? That one is based off an appetizer from ABC Kitchen. My Butternut Squash Gingersnap Cookie Cake is based off ice cream from Van Leeuwen. My Triple Chocolate Pecan Pie is based off Ryan’s mom’s famous Pecan Pie she serves every Thanksgiving. In my mind, just about anything can be a cake flavor!

Photo: Bun Boy Eats

The idea for my Ricotta Beet Cake comes from a donut. And not just any donut. Literally one of the best donuts I’ve ever had. It’s the ricotta beet donut from Doughnut Project in West Village, New York. During a visit to New York several years ago I made my first visit to the Doughnut Project and got a dozen donuts to try. Ryan and my friends thought I was a little crazy getting a ricotta beet donut but I love trying the most unique flavors. And it turns out, it was hands-down my favorite flavor in the bunch. Ever since, I’ve had the flavors on my list of cakes to make.

Homemade Ricotta

After making the Ricotta Olive Oil Cake, I knew I had the perfect base for this cake. The cake layers have two cups of ricotta cheese in them. It provides and incredibly moist and rich texture in the cake. However, something I really noticed about store-bought ricotta while making that cake is how grainy the texture is. You’ll never notice it in the cake layers. It blends beautifully. But I knew there was no way store-bought ricotta would work in the filling I wanted to recreate from this donut.

The filling in the Doughnut Project donut is smooth and creamy. No grainy texture whatsoever!

So, I knew I had to make homemade ricotta! I had been told it was pretty easy to tackle, so I went for it. And low and behold, it’s SUPER easy to make and so much better than store-bought ricotta.

I’ll walk you through all the steps to making your own ricotta below, but a few things you’ll need:

  • Cheese cloth or thin dish towel
  • Mesh strainer
  • Large bowl
  • Heavy cream
  • Whole milk
  • White wine vinegar

I would suggest making the ricotta a day or two ahead of time so it has time to thicken and chill.

Whipped Ricotta Filling

The homemade ricotta will be used in the filling. Once the ricotta is made and has chilled for a couple days, you’ll simple puree it with a bit of orange extract and powdered sugar in your food processor.

I then fold in a little heavy whipping cream right before I start to assemble my cake. Don’t add the whipped cream too early because it kind of deflates if it sits in the fridge too long.

Ricotta Cake

As I mentioned above, you can use store-bought (or homemade) ricotta for the cake layers. The recipe for the cake layers is nearly identical to my Olive Oil Ricotta Cake. I switched out the olive oil for grapeseed oil, which is a light oil (not as heavy as EVOO or vegetable oil). If you don’t want to use grapeseed oil or can’t find it, you can use light olive oil. I also switched lemon zest for orange zest. Orange is an incredible companion to beets! I think you’ll love the hint of orange throughout the entire cake.

Beet Frosting and Puree

Alright, on to the beet flavor! I was so excited to incorporate beets into this cake – not because I love beets, but because I love a challenge! Doughnut Project has a beet glaze on their donut. It’s not a strong beet flavor, but you pick it up just a bit with each bite. The beets also create a beautiful, rich magenta color!

I roasted my beets with some olive oil, thyme and orange zest. These flavors aren’t super strong but are a great accent to the beets. After roasting the beets, you’ll puree them with some orange juice. You’ll then add a couple tablespoons of the puree to the frosting and then use the remaining puree to make a sweetened beet sauce to serve with each slice of cake. I chose not to add the beet puree in the cake itself so people could choose whether or not they want that extra flavor. I think you’ll want it!

 

Ricotta Beet Cake

Ricotta cake layers with a whipped ricotta filling, beet frosting and a beet glaze.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Cake
Keyword Ricotta Beet Cake, Ricotta Cake
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Author cakebycourtney

Ingredients

For the Ricotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, distilled vinegar or lemon juice

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil or other light oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest about one large orange
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese store-bought or homemade

For the Whipped Ricotta Filling

  • 2 cups homemade ricotta recipe above
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

For the Beet Puree

  • 3 whole beets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest about one large orange
  • Juice of one large orange

For the Beet Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 6 cups powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons beet puree recipe above

For the Beet Glaze

  • 1/4 cup beet puree
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar measured and then sifted
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk

Instructions

For the Ricotta

  1. Combine the whole milk, cream and salt in a large pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil, while stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

  2. Once the mixture has boiled for a few minutes, turn the heat off and add the vinegar. Give the mixture a stir and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. You'll see the mixture start to separate into thick parts and thin parts.

  3. Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and then place a damp cheese cloth over the mesh strainer. Pour the milk mixture over the cheese cloth. Let the mixture strain for about an hour. Discard the liquid in the bowl and pour the ricotta in a bowl to chill until ready to use. Can be made ahead of time and store in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days.

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans with spray, parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside
  3. Cream the grapeseed oil and the sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for one minute. Stir in the orange zest.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the ricotta, starting and finishing with the flour. Combine until incorporated.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter among the three cake pans (about 16 ounces of batter in each pan) and bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  7. Let cool in pans 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in your refrigerator overnight or freezer for longer.

For the Whipped Ricotta Filling

  1. Combine the ricotta, powdered sugar and orange zest in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy whipping cream until very stiff peaks form. Fold in to the ricotta mixture. Use right away.

For the Beet Puree

  1. Preheat your oven to 425. Wash and peel your beets. Cut into cubes.
  2. Toss the beets with the thyme, orange zest and olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, until tender.
  3. Combine the beets and orange juice in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  4. Let cool completely before using.

For the Beet Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and on medium speed for about 1 to 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until incorporated.
  3. Keeping the mixer on low, add the cream, vanilla extract, and beet puree.
  4. Turn the mixer to medium and beat the frosting for 3-5 minutes.
  5. To remove air bubbles from the frosting, use a wooden spoon to stir and push out the air bubbles.

For the Beet Glaze

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the beet puree, whole milk and powdered sugar. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Place the first cake layer, top side up (crumb side up), on a cake board or cake plate.
  2. Pipe a rim of the beet frosting around the edge of the cake, about 1/4-1/2 inch in from the very edge of the cake. The rim should be about 1/4-1/2 inch high, as well.
  3. Using an offset icing spatula, spread about 3/4 cup of the ricotta filling over the cake layer. Make sure to get eye level with the cake to make sure the filling is level and be careful not to overfill the filling. If you add too much, your cake will slide around as you frost the sides. You won't use all of it between the two layers. Reserve leftovers to serve a little with each slice of cake.
  4. Repeat these last few steps with the second cake layer and filling.
  5. Place the final cake layer, top side down and apply a thin layer of beet frosting around the entire cake. Freeze the cake for 10 to 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  6. After the crumb coat is set, finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting.
  7. Garnish with beet glaze and pistachios. Serve each slice of cake with beet glaze on the side.

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  1. I recently received the peanut butter and jelly cake from the cake club. Can’t wait to make it. But I live in Colorado Springs, high altitude. Was wondering if I have to do the usual adjustments to the recipe for the high altitude? Thank you!