Walnut Flour Ricotta Cheese and Orange Cake with Poppy Seeds

The mix of ingredients in this very different orange cake allows to create quite unique baking product with soft and moist texture and the blend of taste, where all individual ingredients – cooked orange puree, soft cheeses, either ricotta or cottage cheese, flour from toasted walnuts, with half of the oil extracted, or even poppy seeds – can’t be easily identified. The cake has a mild taste of toasted nuts with many overtones, developing better in 1 or 2 old day cake. The most simple version of the cake is very easy to prepare and bake, especially if you have frozen portion of orange puree at hand.

With a little more work the cake can be baked as an upside down cake, later decorated with orange glaze and peel.

Prepared batter can be baked as a wide loaf cake, as a tray bake, sliced in squares, individual muffins or mini cakes, or as I did for my Christmas presents this year, as mini-loaf cakes. I baked 3 cakes, taking 300g portions of the batter for each cake.

An interesting feature of the batter is baking time, that is nearly the same  for a large loaf or three mini loaves. You will need a special toasted walnut flour, where some oil is already extracted from walnuts. The product has unique features for the nut flour. Fat content is reduced, while the flour has high protein content.

Toasted walnut flour has a distinct aroma of toasted walnuts. It includes some larger  particles not typical for a regular nut meal. I find this feature very beneficial for my cooking needs. I put the flour through 2 different sieves and collect 3 fractions of the product,

the flour itself, smaller pieces of toasted walnuts and larger pieces.

Smaller pieces are very handy for the final roll of dark chocolate truffles that I make every festive season for presents.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs (160g without shell)
  • 150g sugar (10g can be replaced by vanilla sugar)
  • 200g cooked orange puree
  • 80g dense ricotta cheese (I use homemade cottage cheese)
  • 40g full fat (36%) sour cream
  • 100g walnut flour
  • 100g rice flour
  • 50g poppy seeds
  • 20ml walnut oil
  • 9g gluten free baking powder

extra for baking pan

  • unsalted butter
  • caster sugar

orange peel and glaze (optional)

  • orange skin with white under-layer cut off
  • sugar
  • lemon juice

for every 100g of orange peel, 100g sugar and 20ml lemon juice

Preparation:

orange peel and glaze

  • wash an orange, slice the skin in wedges, cut white bitter under-layer off, cut wedges to desired size
  • cover orange peel with cold water, heat to the boiling point and cook for 2-3 minutes, discard water, repeat the procedure again
  • weigh orange peel, register its weight, add the same amount of sugar, lemon juice in proportion 20ml for every 100g of orange peel
  • add water to cover the peel and cook on medium heat until very little liquid in left on the bottom of the pan
  • if orange peel is not soft and fully cooked, add little water and cook more, reducing liquid
  • store peel and glaze separately
  • when cooled down orange glaze will set, to use it for decoration, reheat it in a bowl with hot water and apply to a warm cake crust

cake batter 

  • generously grease cake tin with unsalted butter
  • add caster or regular sugar and moving cake tin spread sugar over buttered sides and bottom
  • cook oranges with skin and make puree as shown here
  • put walnut flour through the sieve, use flour portion
  • mix all dry ingredients – walnut flour, rice flour, baking powder, poppy seeds
  • mix ricotta cheese, sour cream, orange puree and walnut oil into a fine paste
  • whisk eggs with sugar until triple in volume and pale
  • add 2-3 table spoons of whisked eggs to ricotta, sour cream, orange puree and oil paste, mix or whisk to even texture
  • add the rest of whisked eggs, incorporate all wet ingredients together
  • add dry ingredients to wet, combine them with a whisk, the batter will thicken a little in 2-3 minutes
  • spoon the batter into prepared tin, make the surface flat
  • make superficial cut in the batter with silicone spatula dipped in oil, this will provide clear opening of the batter during baking
  • bake in preheated to 170C fan forced oven for an hour
  • the cake will raise, but will lose some of the height when cooling down
  • I like to rest the cake in a switched off oven to have crispy hard crust, especially if I apply orange glaze.
  • the cake develops more sophisticated flavour the next day

  • the easiest decoration option is to use icing sugar

The cake is best sliced when completely cooled down.

  • for the glaze to be spread evenly, turn the cake upside down and return to a warm oven while preparing/reheating glaze
  • use spatula and pastry brush to apply orange glaze
  • the cake shown below looks lighter in colour, because it was baked without poppy seeds

  • the cake can be returned to switched off oven to develop soft skin on the glaze

With whipped cream a slice of the cake becomes an exquisite dessert.

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