Life’s been good lately–I’m sailing through my summer quite well, thank you–so please don’t assume that this negative post and the negative post below it are due to anything sour going on in my life–I am not, by nature, a Negative Nelly. The sad truth is that sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much. Oops. I mean: sometimes when we cook all our hard work doesn’t pay off. To quote the crappy Six Feet Under from the other night: “Life’s not a vending machine: if you put in virtue you don’t necessarily get happiness.” Similarly, the kitchen’s not a vending machine: if you put in hard work you won’t necessarily get deliciousness. Sometimes your cake will have the texture of vomit.
I realize that the vomit imagery is unpleasant to encounter on a food blog. My apologies. But there’s no other way to describe it. This is the Torta di Mandorle, Limone e Ricotta from The River Cafe cookbook. To translate: Almond, Lemon and Ricotta Cake. It requires lots and lots of work. First you take a bunch of blanched sliced almonds and “coarsely chop” them in the food processor. That step proves disastrous in the end product: those “coarse” bits of almond mix with the ricotta and make for a chunky lumpy crunchy texture that..well…I won’t repeat it. You grate SEVEN lemons and mix the zest with the chopped almonds and some flour:
Then you beat butter and sugar and add 6 egg yolks which you separate out. Then you whip the egg whites from those 6 eggs until they form soft peaks. THEN you mix together ricotta cheese and lemon juice which you squeeze from two of those lemons. Here’s all the stuff you need to assemble the cake batter:
You fold the egg whites into the batter and then mix in the ricotta cheese. Pour into a buttered 10-inch springform pan and bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes or until the top turns brown. The top didn’t turn brown so I kept baking until a tester came out clean.
Look, this cake isn’t awful. It’s the texture that’s awful but the flavor’s ok. It should’ve been delicious. Without those chunky almonds I think it would’ve been like a lemony ricotta cheesecake. But sometimes we have to fail to learn. Like the time I lost a Geography Bee to the question: “What city has mile high stadium?” (I said Chicago!) Next time I’m in a Geography Bee I’ll say “Denver” and next time I make this cake (unlikely!) I’ll pulse those almonds until they’re sand. To quote Alanis Morisette: “You live, you learn.”