“The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.” ~ King Lear
Friends, how are you holding up?
Today, while I ate my lunch, I watched a bird video on YouTube with kitties. I’m not here to tell you it was a bad idea. It was surprisingly calming and I lingered far longer than I should have.
When my husband got home, we took a long walk through the skywalk, pausing to watch the rain, smiling at a handful of people we passed along the way. A pile of dishes is still in the sink and I've promised myself I'll get to them. Maybe tomorrow?
If you’re anything like me lately, you're oscillating wildly between:
Introverts rejoice! This social distancing is a gift from the heavens. I have a job, a lasagne in the fridge, and the people I love are healthy
I'm struggling to keep my spirits up. Will the library ever open again? What about the little quiet room where I go to work? Right by the fridge and microwave? With all of the funny young kids who handle customer service and have great energy? Will the people I love get sick? Do we have enough eggs?
This is us.
If there's one silver lining in all of this, I've completely deleted my mile-long list of tasks. The ones that always make me feel super productive.
It feels like we become our most human humans at times like these, and I've been humbled by the incredible kindness that's all around us. People wanting to help and offering whatever they're able. All of the studios offering classes online for free, NASA opening its entire image catalog to kids, people reading children's books, fundraisers for those who've lost their jobs, the offer to shop for someone who is elderly.
If Mister Rogers were alive today, he would see helpers everywhere.
Earlier in the week, my daughter sent word, “Mom, do you have an extra cake pan?”
A woman after my own heart. And so, I left a cake pan (and a sack of puzzles) on her doorstep, and she left me an envelope with a few recipes she and her roommate thought I'd like.
As I studied them, I realized the one for cake, a pale gold number splotched with berries, looked vaguely familiar to a photo I'd bookmarked from Instagram only a couple of weeks before. A simple, single-layer cake with ricotta and spiked with blueberries. Ding ding ding!
I'm a firm believer in an everyday cake on the kitchen counter to brighten one's day. So I picked up some ricotta and late on a Monday afternoon when I found myself feeling a bit stir-crazy, but with a free half-hour, I made a cake.
This is a cake that you can actually throw together, not just in word but in deed.
The batter is thick and rich, like a mousse, and bakes up light, pillowy, terrifically moist. (I know everybody hates the word moist, but I don’t mind it. British recipe writers seem to be into damp, but that usually reminds me of basements, or other people’s towels, or the point in a day at the beach when your swimsuit starts to feel itchy)
A few people on Eating Well's website have commented that they would reduce the sugar, but I wouldn’t. It’s just right, especially against the taste of the berries. If blueberries aren't in the fridge, perhaps save this recipe for more berry-plentiful days? Those will come too.
Or simply use another fruit? Maybe try frozen sour cherries instead? Ricotta and sour cherries. Now, that would be delicious
A few notes:
I always dredge my berries in flour before adding them to the batter. Especially if they're really juicy. Make sure to fold them in gently.
I recommend leaving it in the pan to cool before cutting/moving. At least twenty minutes
White whole wheat or all-purpose flours work great, but I've also used gluten-free oat flour
The original calls for cooking the cake in a loaf pan. If you do, have a piece of aluminum foil handy in case you need to cover it for a while to prevent the top from getting too brown while the middle finishes baking. I like to cook mine in either a 9 x 9″ or 10 x 7″ pan.
~ Adapted from Cooking Light
Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Cake
- ½ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 5 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
- 3 eggs, at room temp (large or XL)
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- sea salt
- 1 ½ cups blueberries
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Coat a 9 x 5" inch loaf pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Beat sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
- Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in ricotta, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and vanilla until just combined.
- Sprinkle flour on top, then evenly sprinkle baking powder and salt over the flour. With the mixer on low speed, beat until almost combined.
- Toss the blueberries with a little bit of flour before gently folding them into the batter. Transfer to the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until starting to brown around the edges and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean (~ 1 hour)
- Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake, then invert it onto the rack. Carefully turn it right-side up. Let cool completely.
- Clean the bowl, add confectioners' sugar and whisk in the remaining 1 tsp lemon juice until smooth. Brush the glaze on the cake.