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Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

The temperature’s high, the brightest blue is painted all over the sky, and my kitchen countertops are piled with berries and stone fruits. Strawberries, raspberries, the first red currents, peaches and apricots – I’m in fruit heaven. And soon I’ll be back in Malta, where figs, naspli (also known as loquat fruit or Maltese plum), and bajtra (prickly pear) will be added to the table. I adore summer, I love its richness and lusciousness, the vast variety of colourful produce that inspires me every time I go to the farmers’ market. A handful of ingredients perfectly ripened under the warm sun turn the most minimal dish into a regal meal. Or a simple sponge cake sandwiched with a creamy filling and seasonal fruit. Is there a better way to feast and celebrate summer than with a Peach Ricotta Torte?

When I was a child, my mother introduced my sister and me to a beautiful Sunday afternoon tradition. We’d pick a recipe, for cake or waffles, chat and bake, and listen to classical music. When our work was done, we’d get cozy on the sofa (in winter) or set up our teatime table in the garden. One of my culinary summer highlights is my mother’s sponge torte with whipped cream and strawberries. It’s almost too pretty to eat. And my uplifted summer mood called for a revival of our little tradition. Instead of German Rührkuchen – a sponge cake made with butter, which my mother bakes – I went for a lighter fat-free sponge, made with lots of beaten egg white. It’s soft and airy, not filling at all, which explains why the two of us ate almost the whole cake in one day.

Malta was my inspiration when I thought about the filling: I chose the lemon-ricotta filling for Maltese cannoli from my book. Lighter than whipped cream, it has a slightly sour touch, perfect for a summer torte. My cake only had one layer of ricotta, but feel free to double the amount and also use it as a topping – in case you aim for a richer cake-sandwich. A little icing sugar to finish it off was just right for me.

White soft and juicy vineyard peaches (also known as doughnut peaches) added the right amount of sweetness, red currants to decorate the cake brought a sharp note to the palate. Stroll over the farmers’ market and grab whatever fruit pleases your eyes and taste. Just try to balance out sweet and sour – that’s what a fruity summer torte is all about.

More fruity summer sponge cake and swiss roll inspiration:

Blueberry Victoria Sponge Cake

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Bittersweet Chocolate and Orange Sponge Cake

Blueberry Lemon Swiss Roll

Strawberry White Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Blackberry Cake with Lemon Mascarpone

Strawberry Cream Roll

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

Makes 1 20.5cm / 8″ cake

For the ricotta filling
Double the amount for the filling if you also want to use it to spread it on top of the cake.

fresh ricotta, drained, 250g / 9 ounces
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
freshly grated lemon zest 2 teaspoons
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/2

For the sponge cake

organic eggs, separated, 4
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
granulated sugar, divided in half, 150g / 3/4 cup
freshly grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/2
plain flour, sieved, 160g / 1 1/4 cups

The fruit

ripe white vineyard peaches or doughnut peaches, with or without skin, cut into very thin wedges, 3 plus 1 peach cut into thicker wedges, for the topping
red currents and raspberries, for the topping, a handful

icing sugar, for the topping, in case you don’t double the ricotta to also use it for the topping

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (conventional setting). Butter a 20.5cm / 8″ springform pan and line it with parchment paper.

For the ricotta filling, in a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds until creamy and transfer to the fridge.

For the sponge cake, in a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg white and salt for 1 minute. Add half the sugar (75g) and continue whisking for about 7 minutes or until very stiff and glossy.

In a clean bowl, using a stand mixer, beat the eggs yolks, the remaining sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla seeds for about 2 minutes or until light yellow and creamy.

Gently fold the stiff egg white into the egg yolk mixture, it should be almost combined. Then fold in the sieved flour, stir gently until relatively smooth and combined. Don’t overmix it and don’t worry if there are a few smaller pieces of egg white left here and there, however, there shouldn’t be any flour left.

Scrape the batter into the lined springform pan and even out the surface a little. Bake for about 20-23 minutes or until light golden and spongy. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the sponge cake cool in the springform pan for about 10 minutes before you take it out and transfer it to a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper from the cake; let it cool completely before you cut the sponge cake and assemble the torte.

When the cake is completely cool, using a sharp large knife, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread the cold ricotta filling on the bottom half of the cake (if you doubled the amount of the filling, only use half the ricotta). Spread the thinner peach wedges in circles on top of the ricotta and gently push them into the filling. Lay the top of the sponge cake on top of the peaches. Either dust with icing sugar or, if you doubled the ricotta, spread the remaining ricotta filling on top of the cake. Decorate with the thicker peach wedges, raspberries, and red currants.

Serve immediately or keep the torte in the fridge, it tastes best on the first and second day. Take the torte out of the fridge about 10-15 minutes before serving and dust with additional icing sugar, if necessary.

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

 

Peach and Ricotta Summer Sponge Torte

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

This is my annual currant cookie recipe. It’s quite a young tradition, I only started it last year, when I introduced a cakey cookie made with red currants, oats, mashed banana, and a strong hint of vanilla to the blog. It was a sweet hit. But 2016 is the year of colours – black, white, and red currants add vivid flavour and beauty to my new creation. It’s still not crunchy, the fresh fruit is just too juicy, but it’s less soft and spongy than last year’s treat. I left out the banana and replaced it with chopped white chocolate, which brought in a different kind of sweetness, with a slightly milky touch.

The problem with cookies is that I always think I’ll make a large batch and keep them in a glass jar to present them in all their prettiness and grab one to go along with my cup of tea or espresso whenever I feel like. However, reality is different. They barely last for two days. It’s surprising how quick 24 cookies can vanish with only 2 people in the house – I’m impressed!

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

 

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

Makes about 24 cookies

plain flour 130g / 1 cup
rolled oats 90g / 1 cup
salt 1/2 teaspoon
baking powder 1/2 teaspoon
baking soda 1/4 teaspoon
butter, at room temperature, 110g / 1/2 cup
granulated sugar 130g / 2/3 cup
vanilla bean, split and scraped, 1/4
organic egg 1
white chocolate, roughly chopped, 100g / 3 1/2 ounces
mixed fresh currants (black, white, and red), preferably frozen for at least 2 hours, 140g / 5 ounces

It’s easier to stir the currants into the dough when the fruits have been frozen, it looks prettier and less messy.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Add the butter, sugar, and vanilla seeds to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat for about 1 minute or until well combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture and mix until you have a lumpy dough (with a bit of flour left here and there). Fold in the white chocolate, then quickly, but gently the black, white, and red currants. Try not to damage the berries too much, you want their juices to stay inside their skins.

For each cookie, drop a generous tablespoon of dough onto the lined baking sheets, don’t push the dough down and leave enough space between the cookies. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for about 13 minutes or until golden brown, the cookies will be quite soft. Take them out and let them cool on the tray for a few minutes before you transfer them to a wire rack.

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

 

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

 

Black, White, and Red Currant Cookies with White Chocolate

 

mixedcurrantcookies12

 

mixedcurrantcookies11

 

mixedcurrantcookies10

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