I don’t know what everyone else is up to tonight, but I’m over here choreographing a happy dance.
Why, you ask?
Well, not that dancing alone in your pj’s repeatedly all day requires actual reasons, BUT! This week, Matters of the Belly is turning one! Or, as it has been affectionately termed, it’s my 1st “blogiversary”!! Woohoo! Can you guys believe it?? What a wonderful year it has been!
I started this blog as a place to unleash my creativity and boundless love affair with food and stories and everything yummy, and I am happy to say that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Because of this blog, I feel so much more connected…not just to my own authentic self, but to so many of you wonderfully magical people who I’ve been blessed to cross paths with over the course of the year, over a shared love and appreciation for good food, storytelling and everything that goes along with it. I feel like I am finally finding my “tribe” as they say, and all I can say is; WHERE have you beautiful souls been all my life?? I count myself incredibly blessed to be connecting with so many lovely people from pretty much all over the world, with whom I operate on the same delicious (and slightly weird) wavelength. I truly cherish you and the friendships we have developed, as well as feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the endless support, encouragement, wisdom, praise, feedback and overall LOVE you have been showing me and my little piece of the internet! GROUP HUUUG!
This blog has also played a huge part in leading me towards the right paths for me, work-wise. It has opened up endless incredible opportunities, made me grow IMMENSELY on both a personal level as well as better my technical skills, and hopefully will continue to do so. I feel like I truly have a lot to be grateful for and celebrate…
And so, naturally, let there be CAKE!
You guys, this right here is the easiest cheesecake you will ever encounter. You know how cheesecakes are known for being fiddly, temperamental and incredibly hard to perfect? From baking in water baths, to wrapping in layers upon layers of foil, to using only room temperature ingredients and avoiding the dreaded cracking of the surface, it is no wonder so many people (myself included) find them intimidating and tend to shy away from attempting them at home.
Well, oh dearest ones, yours truly is here to break all the rules again, wave goodbye to boring old perfection and give you this Crustless, Sunken Ricotta Cheesecake. It is, as I like to call it, the ‘lazy man’s cheesecake’, and if there’s one thing I have in oodles and piles, it is LAZINESS. Yes, I am the queen of lazy and hold the title with pride and endearment. And no, I don’t plan to change.
As I have confessed to you before in my Apricot Galette post, I am an absolute sucker for imperfection. I adore things that OWN their flaws and display them with gusto, making their dreary, perfect little counterparts seethe with envy and outright jealousy…and this cracked beauty does just that.
The cheesecake is made with fresh ricotta cheese (one of my ultimate food obsessions) and, as the title suggests, has no crust. As the cheesecake bakes however, the edges turn the most gorgeously deep bronze colour and become cakey and slightly drier than the velvety smooth and creamy center, resulting in a contrast in textures and a self-made crust of sorts. How cool is that??
TIP: if it isn’t easy to find fresh ricotta where you are, try this ridiculously simple recipe to make it at home (here is another link with step-by-step photos as well. Don’t add herbs though!). It only takes about half an hour and some basic (and readily available and cheap!) ingredients and works like a charm. It was my saviour back when I lived in Egypt!
The eggs used in the cake are separated and the whites beaten to a frothy cloud before being folded into the rest of the batter, which makes the cake rise like mad while baking and crack on the top. Moments after you take it out of the oven, the whole fluffy thing collapses dramatically, resulting in a deep canyon on the gloriously burnished surface, complete with scrumptious pathways and valleys, waiting to be filled with whatever you please.
I love piling that beautifully profound hollow with fresh berries and a sprinkling of flaked almonds, and finishing it all off with a light dusting of powdered sugar. However, other options include your preferred fresh fruit, warm compotes, decadent caramel or even syrupy jam would be absolutely DIVINE! (this or this both work a treat)
This recipe makes quite a small cake. Mind you, there’s only two of us in my household, and as tempting as it sounds, having a full-sized cake hanging around on the kitchen counter would be very unwise. If you are making this for more than four people, go ahead and double the recipe for a normal-sized version.
This Crustless Sunken Ricotta cheesecake will surely steal your heart, both because of its unmatched ease, low-maintenance and simplicity, as well as its utter deliciousness and impressive flawed, rustic beauty. It is also very low in both sugar and flour to boot. Make this for any celebration, when you are having company and want a showstopper dessert with none of the laborious stress or simply as a weekend treat for you and your loved ones; it is an absolute crowd-pleaser and is almost effortless to put together.
Happy birthday to my beloved blog and thank you all again for joining me on this mouth-watering journey!
- • 3 eggs, separated
- • 340g fresh ricotta cheese
- • 40ml (2 tbsp.) honey
- • 25g (2 tbsp.) plain flour
- • seeds from half a vanilla pod, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- • 1-2 tbsp. milk, IF needed
- • ¼ tsp. salt
- • 32g (2½ tbsp.) sugar
- • strawberries (or other fruit) or sauce to serve
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees C (375F)
- Prepare a 20cm (8”) wide & 7cm (3”) deep spring-form pan (preferably non-stick) by greasing with butter and dusting with flour. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, ricotta, honey, flour and vanilla until well combined. If your ricotta is of the firmer kind (which is actually better), you may need to add 1-2 tbsp. of milk to help loosen the mixture & whisk it properly. Set aside.
- In another clean bowl, place the egg whites and salt. Whisk, using an electric mixer, until frothy soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually while whisking, and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy and firm, about 3-4 minutes total.
- Add about a third of the egg whites to the ricotta mixture and stir in to loosen up the mixture. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold in carefully with a spatula, until just combined. Do not over-mix or stir too vigorously, as this will cause the egg whites to deflate.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour, until puffed up and deep golden in colour. There will probably be a crack on the surface, which is totally fine. Remove the cake from the oven. It will deflate and collapse almost immediately, which is also meant to happen.
- Leave it to cool completely in the pan before unmoulding. Top with fresh berries, fruit, caramel or sauce of choice. Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the fridge up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.