Ricotta Cake with Apple Rose Buttercream

HIP HIP HOORAY! IT’S APPLE ROSE CAKE TIME!

February 23, 2021

Good morning! It has been a minute. In contrast to the inactivity on the blog, we’ve been extremely busy behind the scenes, so much so that our online presence fell into radio silence. We are back though, and 2021 is shaping up to be a momentous year on the farm; we’re excited to finally share the many goings-on with you! We’re looking forward to a website relaunch, the release of our full line of DIY Kits, a new kitchen, and the start of our Fresh & Preserving CSAs. The most exciting? We’re building out a brand-new farm store on the property, set to open Memorial Day Weekend! Sign up for the monthly newsletter here to stay on top of all our farm news.

Now that business is out of the way, let’s take a second to talk about rose hips. Also called rose haws, these reddish-orange orbs that grow abundantly here in midcoast Maine are actually the fruit of the rose plant. Tart, spicy, and teeming with vitamin C, they have long been an important part of the indigenous North American diet and were also the cat’s meow of WWII-era Britain, when nutrient-rich rose hip syrup replaced hard-to-come-by citrus fruits. As wintertime approaches and the rest of us are chopping firewood and transitioning to beige & brown tablescapes, the wild roses around us are dropping their petals and putting their energy into shaking their ripe, vibrantly hued hips, which attract animals that will spread their tiny seeds to start the life cycle all over again.

What to do then with all these roses attached at the hip to our heirloom apple trees? Why, make a load of apple rose jelly, of course! We keep it simple by steeping the hips slowly, adding heaps of juicy Winesap and sharp crab apples with a touch of sugar and Organic lemon juice, simmering until soft and blush, then straining with abandon. While we’d like to claim that the idea was all ours, it was really just nature reminding us last fall while harvesting apples amidst the fragrant thorns that these beauties thrive together. Their proximity within our beloved orchard, not to mention the naturally occurring pectin in each, made this jelly a no-brainer.

Now that you know the story behind our Apple Rose Jelly, we have some big news to share: It just won a 2021 Good Food Award! Strengthening the landscape of the U.S. food system, these awards recognize producers across the country that craft superior products while also meeting strict environmental and social responsibility standards. Every January in the Bay Area, the winners across 17 different food categories are announced; while Jenn would normally attend, everything was virtual this year. We were thrilled to find out that our jelly moved from finalist to winning preserve, meaning it garnered the highest ratings in a blind tasting (while also being made from non-GMO, synthetic-input-free, responsibly foraged fruit). We are honored and humbled to be chosen amongst the thousands of entries and join in celebrating with our five fellow Maine winners! 

Speaking of our talented neighbors, we figured there’s no better way to commemorate the award-winning bounty of Maine than teaming up with Crooked Face Creamery in Skowhegan for some cake. (Let’s be honest—we’re just as agog for baked goods as vegetables.) We’ve used our jelly and the rich, whole-milk ricotta from Crooked Face—who won a Good Food Award for their herbed ricotta—to craft this light, delectable cake. We hope you’ll try your hand at the recipe below; also follow us on Facebook or Instagram for an upcoming chance to win one of the remaining jars of jelly! 

In the meantime, thank you, thank you for being part of our blog revival! Visit us for new recipes every two weeks, and/or follow us on social media to be alerted to new posts.

Ricotta Cake with Apple Rose Buttercream

This is a traditional snacking cake that should be left on the counter for 2 to 3 days for a sliver during breakfast or midmorning tea, or a light dessert after lunch or dinner. The beauty of this is it’s an unfussy, no-mixer-required cake! Note that it is best to begin with room-temperature ingredients for all of the below.

Yield: One 8-inch square cake     

Ingredients:

For the Cake: 

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, plus more for the pan
3 large eggs, lightly whisked 
3/4 cup (12 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) ricotta
1 1/2 cups (22 ounces) Maine Grains Organic Pastry Flour, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt


For the Frosting: 

1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter
1 tablespoon milk (any milk, including nondairy)
2 tablespoons Apple Rose Preserves 
3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar

Instructions: 

For the Cake:

1) Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray 8-inch round pan with baking spray, or grease with butter and dust lightly with flour.

2) Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove as soon as it’s melted and transfer to medium mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

3) Add whisked eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract, and whisk together just until blended. 

4) Add the ricotta and stir until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. 

5) Sprinkle the flour, baking powder, and salt over the top of the ricotta mixture and stir just until combined.

6) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top gently with the back of a butter knife or spatula. 

7) Place in the oven and immediately drop temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake for 38-42 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. (Rotating allows for even baking and color, and is a good opportunity to be a nosy baker and spy on your cake at the same time.) When done, the top will be lightly golden and may have a slight crackle—this is totally okay and very yummy. 

8) Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely and place on a cake stand, if desired, before frosting. 

For the Frosting: 

1) While cake is cooling, prepare the buttercream frosting. 

2) Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, removing once melted. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 3 minutes. 

3) Add remaining ingredients and whisk together until creamy and well blended. It should be a somewhat loose but spreadable frosting. If too thick, add more milk by the dropful until you reach a spreadable texture. If too loose, add more powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time until sturdy enough to spread. 

4) Scoop the frosting onto the cake. Gently spread to the edges and down the sides with an offset spatula, back of a spoon, or dull edge of a butter knife. If in season and feeling inspired, decorate with edible flowers! Keep at room temperature, covered, no more than 3 days. [If it’s especially balmy or you’ve not got the real estate on your counter you may refrigerate, though it will dry out a bit. If refrigerating, we suggest frosting the cake as you go. Keep cake in an airtight container or wrapped up tightly with beeswax paper/plastic wrap. Cut slices as needed and allow cake and buttercream to rest at room temperature for an hour before frosting. Alternatively, warm cake at 300°F (150°C) for 5-8 minutes and it will moisten up beautifully; cool a bit, then adorn with rested (room temperature) buttercream to your heart’s content.] 

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