Lemon, Ricotta, and Almond Flourless Cake

Internal Medicine is a huge topic and was definitely cramming for my shelf exam at the end of the rotation. Add all my extracurriculars and having a windfall of new research projects, and I definitely felt the Internal Medicine exam was rough.

In medicine, it’s not only your test scores, but also your personality and teamwork. The Internal Medicine rotation, more than any other rotation so far, truly depends on team dynamics. Hearing other classmates’ stories and learning how to work with all types of people was definitely a good life lesson. Overall, I’ve been blessed with working with great residents and faculty, and IM people tend to be very nice.

Funny how nervous you get when the stakes are raised. Knowing this was my future specialty, I endured an agonizing 4 week wait – I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared to see my grade. Fortunately, it all worked out and I was happy with my final grade. Phew!

So, here is a gorgeous Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake adapted from Cakelets and Doilies. This is such an elegant dessert and reminds me of snooty high society ladies back then sipping tea and eating cakes.

Of course, these upper class women were probably evaluated and critiqued too if they wore an unfashionable dress or weren’t knowledgeable enough on the latest gossip or had an almond from their cake stuck in their teeth. And their careers (ie political statuses and marriages) probably depended just as much, or not more, on their superiors’ evaluations. Talk about high stakes!

Well, I wolfed down my lemon cake shamelessly. I can eat all the cake I want at home in my pajamas, judgement free.

Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake

1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup castor/superfine sugar (ie ground granulated sugar)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature (easier to separate eggs when cold)
2 1/2 cups ground almonds
Packed 1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, not fat free
Flaked almonds and confectioner’s sugar, to decorate

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch round cake pan.

Beat the butter, 1/2 cup caster sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently and gradually fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and top cake with almond flakes. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife just comes clean, but do not overbake. I put foil on after 30 min to prevent the edges from browning too quickly; another option is a water bath. Let cool completely in the cake tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

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