In France, it’s Bastille Day. The Tour de France is on.
In Darlinghurst, it is dark and cold. The Tour de France is on TV.
There’s no better time to bake this Summery Corsican ricotta cake
…then pair it with Wintery spiced pears.
Cake recipe from Frenchie and the Yankee. Poached pear recipe from my imagination.
Just a touch of butter (to prep the tin)
For the fiadone
2 eggs (whole)
4 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp brandy (or Vanilla Galliano)
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup caster sugar
Most of the zest of a lemon
For the pears
3 firm-ish pears (I used Bosc and Josephine)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
The leftover bit of the lemon zest
Splash of brandy (or Vanilla Galliano)
2 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 190° C. Put a baking dish half full of water on the bottom shelf – the steam it releases into the oven will stop the surface of the fiadone from cracking when it sinks (which it should and will do).
- Butter a springform cake tin, and line the bottom with baking paper. Set aside.
- Put the ricotta in a large mixing bowl – if it’s quite firm/dry, break it up with a long-tined fork.
- In a small bowl, quickly beat two of the eggs (yolks and whites), then add this to the ricotta.
- Separate the other four eggs, and set aside the whites. Add the yolks to the ricotta mixture.
- Add the lemon zest (reserve some for the pears), sugar, vanilla and brandy/Galliano. Mix very thoroughly with that long-tined fork, until it’s all as evenly incorporated as possible. (Mine looked like scrambled egg at this point.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with hand beaters) beat the egg whites until you’ve got stiff peaks.
- Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the ricotta mixture until evenly combined.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin, and bake for 45 minutes.
- For the pears
Slice the pears into wedges about 1 cm thick, and add to a medium-sized saucepan with the spices, sugar, lemon zest, brandy/Galliano and water.
- Simmer, covered, on a low heat for about as long as the cake takes to cook. You shouldn’t need to stir these too much, but do so gently every now and then just to stop anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- After about 45 minutes, take the pears off the stove and set aside at room temp until ready to serve.
- Remove the fiadone from the oven. The skewer test is a bit tricky considering the inherent texture of ricotta, but the cake should be more or less deeply golden brown all over.
- Leave the fiadone in the tin on a cooling rack until the cake is at room temp.
- When the fiadone is fully cooled, remove the sides of the tin, and very carefully (remembering there’s no flour holding it together) turn out the cake onto a plate.
- Serve with some of the spiced pears (and syrup), and vanilla-scented black tea.
The lack of butter and flour – and the inherent lightness of ricotta and beaten egg – mean this cake is wonderfully delicate and not at all heavy or rich. So while it would make a lovely, refreshing morning or afternoon tea, it’s also perfect for dessert to end an otherwise intense French dinner.**
Frenchie and The Yankee’s recipe includes all the other cultural and culinary context you could want.
*Traditionally, fiadone is made with ricotta from sheep or goat milk – so if you can, do. (The ricotta I used was a mixture of cow + sheep + goat milk.)
**Who are we kidding? I ate this for dinner.