My Hot Mess Attempt at Apple Ricotta Cake

So after spending the bulk of the first half of the weekend working on some significant enhancements to the code for my spiffy Aggregate Recipe Searcher page, I was having some serious craving for yummies by late Saturday night.

But we’re in the middle of our late-September heat wave here (never mind the fact that it’s only actually mid-June right now… we hit 106, breaking the 100-year-old on-this-date all-time-record-high of 102 from back in 1917!!)

So when faced with having to choose between spending the amount of time and effort in the kitchen that is required for cheesecake, versus laying in front of the fan complaining on Facebook about the heat – cheesecake didn’t win.

Fortunately, I’ve had Hip Pressure Cooking’s Apple Ricotta Cake in the queue for awhile, so that was the direction I headed. At 11:30pm. While it was still 82 degrees outside.

Apples

Obviously the first ingredient needed would be apples. So I fetched the 5 apples I’d purchased a week or so ago, and found 3 of them with huge soft brown mushy spots. (Thanks soooooooo much Heat Wave.) Cutting off the mushy spots did not help. All three were a disgusting brown through and through.

Dammit.

Two more to go, and fortunately they looked intact.

Unfortunately, their decomposing friends decided to share their decomposition cooties.

Fortunately, the cooties hadn’t penetrated too far. However by the time I’d peeled and cut off all the gross places from those last two apples, I didn’t have any shapes suitable for creating the pretty slices called for by the recipe. So everything just got diced, and doused in lemon juice to be set aside.

Grease & Flour

Next up, I need to grease and flour a dish to cook it in. A perfect opportunity to try out my Fat Daddio’s Push Pan — or so I thought.

The recipe said to use a parchment liner, and I fortunately have an entire package of pre-cut parchment rounds, so I popped one of those in — only to discover that it wasn’t perfectly round. But not enough to stop me in my tracks, so I push through.

Now it’s time to grease and flour the pan. Paper towel, bottle of olive oil, and a very spinning parchment round later, I think I have the pan mostly greased. Sprinkle in some flour, tap it around, tilt and shake it around — and then the push pan bottom decides it’s time to pop out.

Fortunately I catch it in time and pop it back in. Tapping and turning some more, to get the flour all around the edges, annnnnnnnd the bottom pops out again.

So I pop it back in again.

Finally all the oiled surfaces now have flour, and another problem surfaces. How to get the extra flour out. I obviously cannot turn the pan upside down and tap the excess out over the trash can. Well shit.

I try doing it anyway, while trying to hold the pan base in place, but the base is a lot heavier than it looks.

Dammit.

Finally I resort to trying to scoop it out with my fingernail. Even that desperate attempt is only partially successful. So I finally give up and use my hand and just smear all the extra flour around as best I can, so there’s not just a pile of flour at the bottom of the pan.

So that’s enough of that, and time to move on to the next step.

Sugar & Decorate

Sprinkle the base of the bowl with raw sugar and arrange the sliced apples artistically.

Well, we already know I don’t have any sliced apples — artistic or otherwise. But I do have Turbinado Sugar, so I sprinkle some in. Then sprinkle some more in. And a little more — all the while totally forgetting that there’s, like, an actual recipe ‘n stuff, that tells me how much to use.

So after some random decorative sprinkling of what is probably way less than I actually should have used, time for apples.  I sprinkle some of those in, too. And then sprinkle some more in. Eventually getting a fairly even coverage, so decide to consider that step done.

Wet Ingredients

Next up, mixing together egg, ricotta, sugar, olive oil and vanilla.

So I grab the tub of ricotta, and a 1 cup measuring cup.

Then I eyeball the size and shape of the measuring cup.

Then the size and shape of the tub of ricotta.

Then the measuring cup again.

Then the tub of ricotta again.

And THEN I squeeze the tub of ricotta at about the halfway mark and blort into the bowl what I’m going to claim was 1 cup of ricotta. 😀

Add the remaining ingredients then *mix* *mix* *mix* *mix* *mix* *mix* *mix* *mix*

OK! Wet ingredients are ready!

Dry Ingredients

The dry ingredients called-for are baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and flour.

So I sift in the baking powder and baking soda, plus double the cinnamon per the recipe’s recommendation, and then it’s time for the flour. Well, my jar of flour is running a little low. And it’s approaching midnight in the middle of a heatwave and I’m cranky, and not in the mood to refill it.

The recipe wants 1 cup of flour. But my 1 cup measuring cup — which is still clean due to my creative ricotta measuring technique! — is too big to fit through the mouth of the jar. So I have to use smaller ones.

As I type this, I realize that I cannot say for sure whether or not I used a 1/2 cup or a 1/4 cup — but what I do remember is that I scooped 4 times. I’m going to hope that my 1/2 cup also doesn’t fit and that I had to use the 1/4 cup! 😀 Otherwise that means I put in 2 cups of flour, instead of 1 cup — and theoretically if I Eff’d up that bad, I’d know — right?

But all that aside, we were back at the problem of my flour jar running low. Not low enough that I don’t have enough for what I need to use — but definitely low enough to make it impossible to get a full scoop. So I sorta kinda had to eyeball the discrepancies and make up for it with an extra scoop. *phew* That means I did use a 1/2 cup measuring cup — now I remember more clearly!

So I scooped the first scoop, and it wasn’t completely full. And I scooped again, and it also wasn’t completely full. Then I scooped a little more, to compensate — but decided it probably wasn’t enough of a discrepancy-balancer, so scooped another “little more”.

And that’s how I scooped four times with a 1/2 cup scoop but only got 1 cup of flour!

Well, we’ll call it 1 cup of flour. We don’t really know what it actually was. In all likelihood it could have been 1-1/4 cups.

Mix & Finish

Finally I mix all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. But it’s really sticky. Not quite to the point of being dough — but definitely not loose like cake batter.

Oh! Apples! Ah ha! Into the bowl go the remaining diced apples and whatever lemon juice they were soaking in. (Note that the recipe didn’t tell me how much lemon juice to add to the apples, so for all I know I’m accidentally making a lemon cake at this point…)

Mix it up and now it’s finally looking more like a batter. *phew*

Pour it all into the pan on top of the decorative raw sugar and apple layer, tap it on the counter a few times to level it out, and then into the pot (which has been pre-loaded with water and a trivet).

Cook on High pressure for 20 minutes, with a full natural release.

Inspect & Extract

Open the lid for the first look, and it appears to be pale and underdone. But the toothpick test comes out surprisingly clean, and then I remember “pale and underdone” is standard appearance for steamed cakes. So out it comes.

I check the recipe instructions for what comes next: Invert into a plate.

Dammit, this is an upside down cake. I totally didn’t need to use the push pan. *grumble* *grumble* *grumble*

But invert it, I do. And let me tell you — push pans were not exactly designed to be inverted. Especially when you apparently did not correctly grease and flour the sides of your pan. And double-especially when you completely forgot to run a knife around the edges first.

Somehow I managed to not burn myself too much while trying to pull the outer ring of the pan off the stuck-to-it cake, while also trying to not squish the cake too much by using the bottom disc of the pan for leverage. Eventually I get the inverted cake fully extracted, and the parchment peeled off.

Annnndddd… as soon as I peel the parchment off (aka: remove the supporting structure it was providing) the edges of the cake start falling off.

Now — this could have been because I didn’t let it cool at all. Or this could have been because I didn’t exactly measure my ricotta or my flour properly. But fortunately it’s only a minor landslide, and not a catastrophic collapse of the whole cake.

I immediately classify the landslide casualties as quality assurance taste test pieces.

Nom. Nom. Nom.

Yum!

This one is getting classified as Dumpster Fire Level 2: Surprising Success.

So here’s what it looks like. (I’m including two extra-large versions of the photos this time, so you can see the detail — so you’ll need to keep scrolling past the first big picture.)

If I’d actually used the correct amount of raw sugar, and had the decorative apple slices, I think this would have ended up looking really awesome!

You can see here where the raw sugar made a nice little crust in places — but not everywhere, since I didn’t use enough.

And here you can get a pretty good look at the final texture — though note that it is likely a little wonky due to my “creative” flour and ricotta measuring techniques.

But — holy cow it was yummy anyway! I can only imagine how fabulous it could have been had I done it properly!

I chowed down on a generous 1/4 slice right away as my 1am snack.  The remaining 1/4 slices got chowed down as breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack. 😀

It was damn tasty both warm, and cold. But I think I liked it a little better as cold, because the texture was more firmed up. (The pix are from the lunch slice, so show the chilled texture instead of the hot texture. The hot texture was pretty delicate, as evidenced by the landslide when I removed the parchment paper.)

The only thing I would change for next time (besides, y’know, doing it properly) would be to add even more cinnamon.

So there ya have it! Upside Down Apple Ricotta Cake, courtesy of Hip Pressure cooking.

Pop on over and give it a try!


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9 comments

  • Beth Ann Fuchs

    Definitely something on my to try list now that I see your results. Might be a while since I only cook sweets on the weekend when I have time to deal with them. Most often on the weeknights it is a struggle to get dinner out of the pot before it is time to go to bed.

    • Jen Neefer

      I’m sure it would hold up just fine on keep-warm all night, until breakfast… 😉 😉 😉

      • Beth Ann Fuchs

        Ricotta is in the shopping cart for pickup on Wednesday. Nectarines are being delivered in my co-op box this week. I see a nectarine ricotta cake in my future!

        • Jen Neefer

          Woo Hoo! That sounds awesome!!

          • Beth Fuchs

            Well hell. The nectarines last week were pitiful, but this week they looked great albeit a little unripe. Put them aside to ripen a bit and let them sit longer than they needed. There are no salvageable nectarines. I may need to rethink my plans a bit.

  • Mary Neese

    You! I measure flour that way, too! And it usually works! I will try this cake. It sounds easy and yummy!

  • Marysue

    Well….you’ve just talked me out of buying a push pan to use in my IP!!! LOL. BUT you’ve talked me INto trying this recipe! It looks yummy….I’m glad it turned out for you!

    • Jen Neefer

      The push pan should be perfect the for cheesecake — way better than the springform pan has been. But it’s definitely not the appropriate tool for an upside down cake!

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