Summer starts on June 21st! In honor of all the BBQing, sprinkler-hopping, and ice cream truck-chasing to come, we give you Hello, Summer, a picnic basket full of easy-breezy recipes and tips to help you make the most of every minute this season.
We met Louisa in the spring of 2011. Well, that’s when we met her cake, a single-layered, unfrosted, unassuming recipe that, in the years since, has garnered quite the following on our site. And that’s putting it lightly.
If this is all news to you, let’s catch up: The crust is varnished and bronze. The interior, tender and plush. There could be powdered sugar on top. Or not. Louisa’s Cake has the custardiness of tres leches, the fudginess of chocolate brownies, the confidence of Rihanna.
ONE OF THE MANY, MANY TIMES WE'VE MADE THIS
This is all thanks to ricotta.
Lots of it. In the 9- or 10-inch cake, you use a full cup. As fresh and top-notch as you can get your hands on—truly, so worth it here. All that cheese becomes barely held together by the regulars: flour and sugar, eggs and butter, baking powder and salt.
But wait—there’s more. As if there wasn’t enough moisture with the ricotta, Louisa adds grated apple for good measure. This offers subtle fruitiness and brightness, like someone who speaks softly, so you lean closer to hear.
It is not an apple cake but a cake with apples. And you’d miss them if they weren’t there.
I snack on apples year-round but, when it comes to recipes, June to August means daydreaming about juicy stone fruits and puckery berries, crimped into pie or churned into ice cream or tossed into cake.
Like Louisa’s cake. Which is dead simple and fussless, just like slow, sleepy summer afternoons. I couldn’t help but wonder: What would happen if we swapped out the apple and called in a peach?
Louisa’s cake calls for 1 cup, so I substituted exactly that: 1 cup of peeled, minced-into-oblivion peaches. They should be somewhere between firm and tender, like last night you went to sleep and they weren’t yet ready, then you woke up and, just like that, they were.
Because this brings more juice to the mix than apples do, another tablespoon of flour goes a long way. I added a little more salt because I can’t help it. But everything else stays exactly the same.
If you’re like me, you’re now wondering: If we can substitute peaches, what about nectarines? And plums? And figs? I haven’t tried any of this. We’ll just have to make lots of Louisa’s cake to find out.
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (127 grams)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (225 grams)
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup peeled, very finely diced peaches (213 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (168 grams)
- 1 cup fresh ricotta (246 grams)
What fruit would you want to try in Louisa's cake first? Tell us in the comments! And let us know what you try, too.