Happy birthday to me from Florence Italy! My husband took me on my first trip to Europe for my 52nd birthday, and on my actual birthday we took a cooking class and learned to make this delicious Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake!
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When we came home, even before my jet lag ceased, I was missing Italy. That has never happened to me before. When we travel I am the first to want to go home and am always so happy to be home when I get there. But not this time. Italy has a place in my heart.
Florence is the capital of Tuscany and was the third stop on our trip. (Click links to see lovely Rome and Positano) Florence is an amazing city and it seems everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to see: statues, fountains, food, museums filled with spectacular works of art, gelato…even the people are beautiful. Florence is divided by the Arno river which creates some fantastic photo opportunities.
The day after we arrived was my birthday and Mother’s Day. My husband arranged for us to take a cooking class with the lovely Laura Franceschetti at Cooking In Florence. Laura has the most amazing old Italian home, what we would call a brownstone, three stories high with a beautifully updated kitchen that still maintains it’s old world charm. We made gnocchi, a zucchini and cheese side dish, a chicken main dish and finished with this birthday cake!
The Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake:
This is an authentic Italian Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake. Gorgeous isn’t it? And it’s made with almond meal instead of flour so it is naturally gluten free! We had a blast at this cooking class and the food was amazing!
The recipes we used in our class came from a traditional Italian cookbook called “Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” (affiliate link). Laura has a print of this book published in 1891! You can find a new version in English here. The cake itself is made with ricotta cheese, lemon zest, eggs, sugar and almond flour. The batter is poured into a parchment lined springform pan and baked until firm. It’s very easy to make.
The Strawberry Coulis:
The coulis is made in about 30 seconds by placing berries, lemon juice and sugar in a blender and mixing until smooth! Then just pour over your cheesecake!
To say my birthday and Mother’s day were memorable is an understatement! After our cooking class and fabulous lunch we spent a few hours Skyping with our children from three different countries, Italy, Argentina and the good old USA. Be sure to come back next week when I will be sharing a recipe inspired by our stay in Montepulciano, Italy!
The Recipe: Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Coulis (gluten free)
This recipe is an adaptation from an old Italian recipe for Torta Di Ricotta found in the cookbook Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. All ingredients in Italy are measured by weight which is more accurate but I will offer American measurements too.
- 500 grams ricotta cheese (16 oz, full fat and strained of water)
- 130 grams sugar (2/3 cup)
- 150 grams almond meal (3/4 cup)
- 4 large whole eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- zest of two large lemons
- 6 fresh or thawed frozen strawberries
- 50 grams sugar (about 1/4 cup)
- Juice of half a large lemon
- 1-2 Tablespoons water if needed to thin out coulis
Preheat oven to 350 and place rack in lower third of oven. Cut parchment paper so it covers the bottom and sides of a springform pan with an inch or so of hangover. Crumble paper and run under water. Ring out paper, grease with butter and place in springform pan. Set aside.
whisk together ricotta cheese and sugar.
add almond meal and eggs, whisk till smooth
add lemon zest and mix well
Pour in prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until center of cake is set. If cake begins to brown, tent with foil. Allow to cool before removing from springform pan. Turn cake over and place on a serving dish. Cut into pie shapes and drizzle with strawberry coulis.
Place strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a blender and blend till smooth. If needed add a 1-2 T water for thinning.
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