Makes 1 9″- round cake
9 ounces hazelnuts, shelled
9 ounces ricotta cheese (if you are using home-made, make sure it is well-drained)
8 ounces butter, softened
11 ounces white sugar
8 eggs, separated
zest of 5 lemons, grated with a Microplane
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Lightly butter a 9″ springform cake tin.
Toast the hazelnuts on the stovetop, until they begin to brown and smell fantastic. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins by placing the nuts in a towel and rubbing until the majority of the skins have fallen off. Chop in the food processor until finely ground.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest and ground hazelnuts with a fork.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until very pale, light and fluffy — this can take up to 5 minutes. Beat the egg yolks in one by one. Gently add this mixture to the ricotta mixture. Clean the stand mixer bowl and get it impeccably dry.
In the stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they have formed stiff peaks. How can you tell they are done? Bravely hold the bowl over your head. (Refer to cute picture of Lucia, bottom left corner.)
Mix in about ⅓ of the whipped egg whites (the sacrifice) into the batter to lighten the mixture altogether. Then, gently fold the remaining beaten egg whites into the batter. Are you getting the idea that the batter should be light and fluffy? Good!
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake about 45 – 60 minutes until nicely set. Allow to cool slightly, remove from pan, and continue to cool to room temperature.
The beauty of this cake is that it is delicious on it’s own – perhaps simply adorned with a dusting of powdered sugar. It has been rumored, however, that some choose to melt dark chocolate and splatter it over the cake as a delicious decoration.