Left to my druthers, I would easily eat cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’d probably weigh a million pounds and be horribly malnutritioned, but boy oh boy would I ever be happy. So I settle for occasionally sneaking a slice of cake for breakfast when I’m feeling particularly indulgent.
This is the kind of cake I usually pick, because I can almost justify it as breakfast food. I mean, it’s made with fresh apples and unbleached flour and ricotta cheese, so how bad can it be?
Yeah. I know. It’s still cake, so it’s about as far from health food as you can get.
But if you’re hankering for a lovely treat for a special morning, this is about as perfect as it gets, with a gently spiced batter dotted with lots and lots of apple chunks nestled under a fluffy ricotta frosting.
I suppose the guilt factor could be reduced by making it in a muffin tin instead, but I believe in being honest with myself. Not to mention I like my guilty pleasures to be as guilty as possible.
Oh, and in case you’re curious, it’s absolutely perfect with a big mug of strong black tea, which is yet another reason it makes such a lovely breakfast.
Quick Tip: If you’re not a fan of Granny Smith or just want to shake things up a little, this cake is just as lovely with any apple that holds its shape when baked. Try it with Northern Spy, Crispin, or Honeycrisp apples.
Apple Spice Cake with Ricotta Frosting
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup melted butter
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 large Granny Smith apple, diced (~1 cup)
½ cup extra-smooth ricotta cheese
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly grease and butter.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- In a second large mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar and melted butter until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the applesauce and vanilla, and stir until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 batches, stirring until just barely combined after each addition. Fold in the diced apples.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing out into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a moist crumb. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then lift out using the parchment paper and set down on a wire rack to cool off completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the ricotta and butter. Sift in the icing sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time, beating as you go. Once all of the icing sugar has been incorporated, continue beating for another minute or two, or until smooth and spreadable.
- Spread the frosting onto the cooled cake. Sprinkle with a little ground nutmeg before serving, if desired.