Friday 30 October 2015

Halloween sponge cake with pumpkin, ricotta cheese and almonds

30 minutes to prepare Serves 12



Halloween tradition is related to the famous legend of Jack, an Irish blacksmith who was cunning, avaricious and drunkard. One day he met the devil at the bar. Because of his state of intoxication, his soul was almost lost, but, cunningly, he managed to turn the devil into a coin and promised his soul in exchange for one last drink. Jack put the devil in his purse, next to a silver cross, so that the devil could not change back. The devil promised that he would not take his soul during the next ten years and Jack released him.
Ten years later, the devil showed up again and Jack asked him to pick an apple from a tree before taking his soul. In order to prevent the devil to climb down the tree, Jack carved a cross on the trunk. Only after a long spat the two came to a compromise: in exchange for freedom, the devil would have to save Jack from the eternal damnation. During his life Jack committed many sins so that, when he died, he was rejected by Heaven. Then, when he presented himself in Hell, Jack was cast out by the devil, too. The devil reminded him of the deal and was happy to let him wander as tormented soul.
When Jack objected that it was cold and dark, the devil threw him a firebrand, which Jack placed it inside a pumpkin he had with him. He began to run day in and day out in search of a place where to rest.
Halloween is the day when Jack goes around in search of a refuge. The inhabitants of each village hang a lantern outside the door to indicate the unfortunate soul that their house is no place for him.

Today we will honor Jack's legend with a monstrous sponge cake made with pumpkin, ricotta cheese and almonds.
So ugly, so yummy!

Here are ingredients for a 12-serving recipe (24-cm diameter baking pan):

500 g pumpkin - peeled and with no seeds
150 g peeled almonds
200 g sugar
150 g flour 00
300 g sheep milk ricotta cheese
100 g butter
100 ml milk
1 sachet vanilla baking powder
4 eggs
cinnamon powder

  1. Preheat oven to 180°
  2. Cut the pumpkin into small pieces, place them on a baking tray - covered with baking paper - and cook it in the oven at 180° degrees for 30 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bain-marie and let it cool down. Drain ricotta cheese in a colander and store it in the refrigerator. When it is dry, sift it
  4. Place almonds in a blender. Add half of the sugar, and blend until you obtain a uniform flour-like mixture
  5. Once pumpkin is cooked, let it cool down. Then blend it until you obtain a dense puree
  6. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and beat egg whites until stiff
  7. Beat eggs with the remaining sugar for about 10 minutes until mixture is puffy and fluffy
  8. Add ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder, and stir again. Then add melted butter and milk
  9. Incorporate flour sifted with the baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add the almonds flour, too
  10. Finally add the egg whites and whisk gently with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth
  11. Grease and flour the baking pan, pour and level the mixture
  12. Bake the cake at 180° for 50 minutes. (Do not open the oven for at least the first half of the baking time and perform the toothpick test at the end, to be sure baking is done)
  13. Let the cake to cool down completely, then transfer it on a serving platter. Garnish with some terrifying chocolate decorations, if you like!

Nutrition Facts are detailed in the table below. Data is provided per serving.

Jack o' the lantern! Joan the wad,
Who tickled the maid and made her mad
Light me home, the weather's bad

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