Life and circumstances sometimes get in the way of routine and it’s been a short while since I last participated in the MENA Cooking Club. Prior contributions have been Algeria, Bahrain, Djiboui, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan. This time it’s Malta’s turn.Malta is a little country highly influenced by Italy and Arab culture due to its funny geographical location. First off, it’s an island, and it’s located south of Italy and north of Libya and Tunisia (both MENA coutries). So one can see where the influence stems from. This lemon ricotta flourless almond cake is undeniably inspired by the Italian side of Malta. It is light but still holds its own. Try not to skip the flaked almonds on top as they are not only pretty, but hint as to what’s inside and give a delightful textural contrast to the cake.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
2 1/2 cups almond meal
1 1/4 cup ricotta
Flaked almonds, to decorated
Icing sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 325F. Line the base and sides of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined.
Add the almond meal and beat to combine.
Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the tops with a palette knife, decorate the cake with almond flakes, and bake for 55-65 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch.
Allow to cool completely in the cake tin.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.