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01 November 2012

Torta di Uva Fragola & Ricotta (Ricotta & Concord Grape Cake)

Uva fragola (concord grapes or strawberry grapes) come and go fast, in September and sometimes they stay until October.  I baked this cake in the middle of October after chancing upon baskets of uva fragola at the farmers' market.  The producer only asked for 1 Euro for a 500 gram basket!  What a steal!  They are not as common as the regular grapes at the markets where I live but they are more common in Tuscany. 

This is my third recipe using these grapes and the second cake recipe.  My favorite among these three is the Tuscan classic called Schiacciata con Uva e Rosmarino (Grapes & Rosemary).  It's a focaccia with the grapes crushed in between two layers of bread dough.   Schiacciata means crushed as the bread is aptly named.  It is commonly done in Tuscany and can be found in Florence & Prato mainly.  

And the first cake recipe I tried with uva fragola is this Concord Grape Cake.  It was good!   I chanced upon the recipe by mistake because I thought I had been following a recipe of a schiacciata which the recipe claims to be.  But as I looked at the cake from all angles, it was definitely a cake, not a schiacciata

It's still raining and dreary.  The rain never stopped for a single minute today.  As soon as I opened my eyes this morning, it had been dark, gray, wet and very cold outside.  Perhaps it's a perfect setting for Halloween but it's not really conducive for anything celebratory.  The weather is infectiously gray.  So the kids didn't don their costumes but instead, we had a dinner of bags and bags of chips and made ourselves drunk with sodas while watching movies.  The kids were jumping everywhere due to too much sugar and damn bad things we fed them today.  Guilty!  But this happens only once a year, doesn't it?   The little acrobats are already safely tucked in their beds.  Ssshhh!  

Before you start worrying if I will ever arrive to the cake, here it is.  It's soft, moist and delicious.  Concord grapes are really intense in flavor for that I love using them in cakes.  I made two of these, taking one to a lunch party.  The guests loved it.  I hope you will too.

Torta di Uva Fragola & Ricotta 

Ricotta & Concord Grape Cake

Serves 8 -10
Fits a 26 cm. baking pan (I divided it into two square 16 cm. pans.)
  • 250 g. sugar
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 100 g. butter, softened
  • 80 g. ricotta 
  • 150 ml. milk 
  • 120 ml. extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds removed (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract) 
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated 
  • 400 g. flour (I used 00.) 
  • 16 g. baking powder 
  • 600 g. uva fragola, seeded (or muscat grapes)
  • pinch of salt
  1. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the butter, ricotta, milk, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla seeds and lemon rind.  Mix well. 
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder & salt.   Let it rest for a few minutes.
  4. Mix in half of the grapes to the mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a buttered & floured (or lined with parchment paper) baking dish.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven of 180 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes.   
  7. After 10 minutes, take the cake out of the oven and distribute the remaining grapes on the top of the cake.
  8. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes more until the top turns golden brown and the knife or toothpick you insert in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let it cool.
  10. Garnish with a small bunch of uva fragola & fresh mint leaves on top then sprinkle with icing sugar.