This weekend, I made my own cheese for the first time! Making homemade ricotta has been something I’ve wanted to try for a while now, but I always remained a bit skeptical – would it turn out with a normal consistency, or would I be left with a mess of lumpy, sour sludge, and even if it did turn out properly, would I be able to eat it all before it went bad? Luckily, this month’s Cheese Please! challenge over at Fromage Homage gave me the push I needed just to quit fretting and try it already, and lo and behold, it turned out lovely! I couldn’t resist snacking on a bunch of it, which I spread on a baguette and layered sliced cucumbers on top. Mmmm…
What also turned out lovely was this orange ricotta poppy seed coffee cake! I knew I wanted to pair oranges with poppy seeds in a coffee cake, and fresh ricotta was the perfect addition to keep the cake nice and moist. If you want to make your own ricotta, I’ll direct you over to the recipe I used at Smitten Kitchen, but you can also buy ricotta at the store and it’ll turn out just fine. I also used cara cara oranges, which are a bit sweeter than other navel varieties, but you can use any type you like.
This was actually the first time I’ve tried cara cara oranges – Whole Foods lured me in by providing samples right at the store’s entrance, and I immediately knew I had to have some, so I threw a few in a bag without really paying attention to name or anything. Later that day…
Me, to the boyfriend: These oranges are especially sweet. You should try some.
The boyfriend: What kind are they?
Me: Umm, some new kind I haven’t bought before. Caracalla or something?
The boyfriend: Oh, okay. Cool.
Me: Wait, no, Caracalla was a Roman emperor. Cara cara?
The boyfriend: That would actually be really awesome, to name it after a Roman emperor…
Since I don’t have the address in order to write to the Orange Naming Association of The World about renaming cara cara oranges, it seemed much easier just to nickname the coffee cake itself: instead of the long mouthful of saying “Orange Ricotta Poppy Seed Coffee Cake,” in my household it shall henceforth be known as “Emperor Coffee Cake.” It has an impressive ring to it, no?
Anyway, a rose orange ricotta poppy seed coffee cake by any other name would smell taste as sweet, so I hope you make this coffee cake and enjoy it as much as we did!
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- zest and juice (about 1/4 cup) from 1 orange
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter.
- Prepare the topping: in a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, salt, almond extract and walnuts. Once thoroughly combined, pour melted butter on top and stir until all the dry ingredients are coated with butter and a crumbly mixture forms. You may want to use a fork to break up the clumps that are larger than half an inch in diameter. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Once combined, beat in eggs, adding one at a time. Add ricotta, orange zest and juice, and mix until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds, and then add to the mixing bowl. Mix until fully incorporated. The batter will be rather thick – don’t worry!
- Place about one half of the batter in the prepared springform pan. You may need to use an offset spatula to spread the batter evenly over the bottom. Sprinkle on top about one half of the prepared topping. Repeat with the remaining batter and topping.
- Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before running a knife or offset spatula around the edges to help loosen the sides.
- Serves 10-12.