Cardamom Cream Cake
Don't let the number of ingredients or length of directions stop you from making this Cardamom Cream Cake -- it comes together quickly and worth the extra work.
- RICOTTA FILLING
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh whole-milk ricotta, 680 grams, about 2 1/2 cups
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, 120 milliliters
- 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, 95 grams
- 1 teaspoon rose water, or to taste. May substitute vanilla extract.
- MILK SYRUP
- 2 cups whole milk, 475 milliliters
- 4 cardamom pods
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, 75 grams
- 1 1/2 teaspoons rose water, or to taste. May substitute vanilla extract.
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, 170 grams, about 1 1/2 sticks, plus more for greasing pan
- 3 cups cake flour, 330 grams, plusmore for flouring pan
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 cup whole milk, 240 milliliters
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon rose water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 300 grams
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- MASCARPONE FROSTING
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, 170 grams, about 1 1/2 sticks
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 125 grams
- 1 teaspoon rose water, or to taste. May use vanilla extract.
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cup cold mascarpone, 240 milliliters
- 1/4 cup cold Greek yogurt, 60 milliliters
- 1/3 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped, 50 grams
- Candied rose petals, for garnish (optional)
Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com
Drain the ricotta in a fine mesh sieve placed in a large bowl for 1 to 2 hours until very thick. If you’ve bought very thick, very freshly made ricotta from a specialty shop (not the kind from the supermarket), you can skip this step.
Meanwhile, make the milk syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the milk and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the milk until it reduces by half, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves, then continue to simmer until the mixture thickens to the texture of half and half, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool, strain the mixture to get rid of the cardamom and any coagulated milk, then stir in the rose water. Syrup can be prepared up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated.
Make the cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, then grease the parchment. Flour the entire pan and parchment, tapping out any excess.
In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the egg whites, milk, vanilla and rose water.
Using an electric mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt, and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and about a third of the milk-egg white mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for a minute or so until everything is very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the remaining milk mixture in 3 batches, beating well between additions. Scrape down the sides.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center, 25 to 35 minutes. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 20 minutes, then unmold and cool completely.
Make the ricotta filling: Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the ricotta, cream and confectioners’ sugar until quite smooth, about 30 seconds. Beat in rose water to taste. Beat on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. The mixture will thicken.
Make the mascarpone frosting: Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, rose water and cardamom until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in mascarpone and yogurt until the mixture is just combined and looks smooth. Do not overbeat or the mixture may curdle.
When the cakes have cooled, use a long serrated knife to trim the tops of the cakes, so the tops are flat and even. Then cut each cake in half into 2 layers, to make a 4-layer cake. Brush cake layers on all sides with milk syrup. Place one cake round on a cake stand or serving platter, then top with one third of the ricotta filling, leaving a small border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with the remaining cake layers and ricotta filling.
Frost top and sides of the cake with the mascarpone frosting. Top with chopped pistachios and candied rose petals, if using. Chill until ready to serve.