Torta 790 xxx
photo by george billard

3.17.10 Piece of Cake

This cake came about because I found some gorgeous-looking hazelnut flour when I was poring over the Market Hall Foods website and I had some lovely fresh ricotta from the farm upstate. Plus I'm always looking for new, gluten-free treats for G so he doesn't feel deprived in this wheat-centric world. Sicilians make a ricotta cheesecake with chopped hazelnuts, perfumed with lemon zest, so that—and the classic Italian hazelnut cake—was my inspiration. It's sort of my own hybrid, so I've called it Torta "La Cosa Nostra," but after sharing it with you, I won't have to kill you. Light yet rich, it has a dense but crumbly texture. As with my orange-almond flour cake, I like to sprinkle the top with demerara sugar (a raw cane sugar with a large crystal) which forms a lovely crunchy crust. The cake is pretty irresistible served warm with a dollop of creme fraîche or a scoop of lightly sweetened ricotta. It's also good accompanied by fresh, macerated or stewed fruit. (Some suggestions: fresh blood oranges; strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar; stewed apricots.)