Morning Rituals: Valeria’s Orange Ricotta Cake for Breakfast

(Thanks to: Evencki for the bed linens, The Freaky Raku for the wonderful bowls!)

I wake in a haze of leftover shreds of dreams, which I remember so clearly every time after I wake up.

I am a late sleeper, a restless dreamer, and an early waker. My 6-hour-per-night sleep routine starts with the longing for the sunlight to arrive again.
My mornings know no rush: in the silence of the morning, I make myself green tea, and I savor it thoroughly before I do anything else. Having the luxury of being a morning person, I can take up to an hour indulging in the rites of the first sunlight – an indulgence that feels more like a meditation, and in which every gesture is made with a consciousness that caresses sacrality: adding coffee to the moka pot and wait for its joyful gargle. Adding water to the pot to make tea, savoring the moment I will dip my hands into the green leaves and smell their Jasmine, herbaceous aroma before dumping a fat pinch into the 80 C˚ water. Diving deep into morning readings, occasionally interrupted by cat-like stretches. A nourishing breakfast, and then it is off to work.

This is my idea of a lovely morning.

Valeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingIrene Berni's Lemon Cake | Hortus Natural Cooking

Only on the weekends I let myself indulge between the sheets a little longer (and how could you not, when you are cradling between the tender linen Evencki‘s sheets are made of?) and savor the idea of a breakfast that is more like a treat, as the Italians are used to do: a slice of coffee cake, crostata, and a snow-white cappuccino.
La Dolce Vita (‘the sweet life’), as some like to call it: the art of taking it easy to savor every bite and every sip – in all aspects of life.

I love these moment so much that I decided to dedicate an ebook to them, which will be called ‘La Dolce Vita Breakfast‘ and which I am releasing next month.
(truth be told, it was due to be out last week, but I need to finish some things with my own cookbook Naturally Vegetarian, so I am making sure nobody gets mad at me :) ‘real’ work first!)

A work that would not have been possible without the help and contributions of some bloggers – some of those I admire the most: Riccardo Astolfi (author of Pasta Madre + baker at Stria), Irene Berni (Valdirose Charming Rooms), Cynthia Chen (Two Red Bowls), Valentina Goltara (Sweet Kabocha), Betty Liu (Le Jus d’Orange), Valeria Necchio (Life Love Food), Saghar Setareh (Lab Noon), Zaira Zarotti (The Freaky Table).

To each of these talented people I assigned a weekend breakfast, and they all did the most wonderful job in providing me with beautiful recipes. I am honored and humbled that each one of these people granted me their presence in this little work of mine.

Valeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingIrene Berni's Lemon Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural Cooking

In this post, I am disclosing Valeria’s recipe for a tasty, fruity orange-scented spelt ricotta cake, which I made two times already. I loved her recipe as soon as I saw it: it is so deeply Italian, and brings such a reminiscence of the smells and flavors I have known since I was a kid. Her Venetian heritage blinks an eye to whatever she does, and cakes like this one breach into the comfort zone of what is familiar to us and makes a place home.

You see two cakes in the picture: one is Irene’s Lemon Cake, but this is a recipe you will have to wait a little longer for…

Irene Berni's Lemon Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural CookingValeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural Cooking

Since a balance between health and indulgence is essential in life, this cake is thought as a special weekend morning breakfast, to dip in coffee or tea. It is quite thick and dense, with a fruity, fresh citrus aroma that perfectly complements with the subtle taste of fresh ricotta. It immediately became one of my favorite cake recipes and, if you are a ricotta fan, I have no doubt you will love it. The whole spelt flour makes it a little healthier, and I personally love it with half the amount of sugar if you prefer to cut back a little.
I slightly changed the recipe for this cake here, since I doubled it to make it more suitable for the cake pans I have at home. In the ebook, you are going to find Valeria’s perfect and unchanged version.

Valeria's Orange Ricotta Cake
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1⅓ cup / 150 g (5.3 oz) white spelt flour (or unbleached AP flour, best if stone-milled)
  • 1⅓ cup / 150 g (5.3 oz) whole spelt flour
  • 3 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup / 200 g (7 oz) raw cane sugar
  • 4 medium free range eggs
  • 1¼ cup / 300 g (10.5 oz) fresh ricotta, drained & passed through a sieve
  • 150 ml (1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons) oil: I used half fruity extra virgin olive oil, and half flavorless vegetable oil (coconut is perfect too)
  • Zest & juice of 2 organic unwaxed oranges (preferably Navel)
  • Zest from 1 organic unwaxed lemon
  • 50 g (1.7 oz) slivered almonds
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C˚.
  2. Combine the flours with the baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until white and fluffy, add the ricotta and the oil and whisk to combine. Stir in the orange zest.
  4. Pour the wet mixture onto the flour mix and fold through until just combined, trying not to overwork the batter.
  5. Transfer to an oiled round spring-form pan, about 23-cm wide. Even the surface with a spatula, then scatter the slivered almonds on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre of the cake.
  6. Remove from the oven & let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge to remove the spring form. Lift from the bottom and finish cooling on a rack.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk the filtered orange juice with the icing sugar until dissolved. Pour it all over the still-warm cake. Let the glaze set & the cake cool completely before slicing.
  8. TIP: for some extra indulgente, add chocolate chips to the batter.

Riccardo, who is a great friend and colleague (remember his Sourdough Pancakes?) deserves a special mention: he had me jump on a special project – a campaign to reduce general daily sugar intake and eliminate refined sweeteners from our diets. We are working on developing a website and an ebook. I cannot wait to tell you more!

What is your favorite everyday breakfast, and your favorite indulgent one?

Valeria Necchio's Orange Ricotta Spelt Cake | Hortus Natural Cooking

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