It has taken me 25 years, but I am starting to think that frosting a cake is overrated. Obviously, this is a very serious matter. Believe me, I have not taken the responsibility of frosting consideration lightly. And it isn’t that I am impartial to it; you are reading the script of a girl who may or may not have licked buttercream off the flaps of the box that her cupcake from The Copper Hen came home in. Oh, don’t worry. You read that correctly. I licked frosting off of a box. I think the only portion of that sentence we both missed were the words “because I am hopeless.”
So how, after 25 years of debate, a recent-though not isolated-encounter with a box and some buttercream, and the slightest inclination to believe I might have a problem, have I come to the shocking conclusion that cake does not actually need frosting all of the time? Because let’s face it: frosting can be like make up, in that it only disguises the quality of what is underneath for so long.
There is true elegance in the simplicity of a dense ricotta cake, browned to perfection and marked with sweet bursts of burgundy cherry halves. This recipe, which I adapted from Bon Appetit’s March 2015 issue, is the kind that makes you change opinions you previously thought were written in stone. Just as frosting became optional for me, so, too, did the criteria for mealtimes. Surely we can have cake at breakfast and lunch, too, right? Because I’ve definitely been doing that.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes 1 9-inch Round Cake
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups frozen cherries, sliced in half and divided
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by 1 1/2 cups cherries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining 1/2 cup cherries over top. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unfolding. Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.