Picnic Basket

berry & hazelnut cake

We’ve had some gorgeous spring-like weather here in Sydney lately. The sun is shining, the jacaranda trees are in full bloom with fallen purple blossoms all over the footpaths, and it’s a magical time of year to be outside. Predictably, I’ve been thinking about picnics (as usual). It’s time to dust off the trusty checked blanket, squeeze some lemons for homemade lemonade, gather your favourite people and head off to your favourite park for a long lazy afternoon in the sun. Perfect.

Here’s a fantastic cake recipe that would be just perfect for your picnic basket, making the most of the great berries that are coming into season now, combined with the great flavours of hazelnut and ricotta. It travels well, and is quite easy and quick to make. It is also lovely served with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream, and a nice cup of tea for an afternoon snack. I would also like to mention that I had a slice today for morning tea, two days after I made the cake and it was still surprisingly beautifully fresh and moist.

Unfortunately my cake doesn’t look much like the picture from Gourmet Traveller with a beautiful layer of berries in the middle, but it is still absolutely delicious, even if your berries sink to the bottom like mine did! I also thought that the cake definitely needed more berry flavour so I have increased the amount in the recipe below.

Berry, Hazelnut and Ricotta Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller
Serves 8

• 120g soft butter
• 240g caster sugar
• 2 eggs
• 125ml (½ cup) buttermilk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 225g plain flour
• 75g hazelnut meal
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
• 20g chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Ricotta Filling
• 150g ricotta
• 1 egg yolk
• 25g caster sugar
• ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Berry Filling
• 250g mixed berries, such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
• 60g golden caster sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F) and center a rack in the center of the oven.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until smooth and creamy.
3. Add buttermilk and vanilla and beat to combine. Sift the flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together. Add to the mixture and beat to combine. Stir through the chopped hazelnuts with a rubber spatula. Spoon half the mixture into the base of a greased and floured 18cm cake pan and set aside.
4. For ricotta filling, process ingredients in a food processor or with electric beaters until smooth, then spread over cake mix in pan.
5. For berry filling, combine berries, sugar and lemon in a bowl, then spoon over ricotta filling.
6. Spoon remaining cake mixture over berries and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour or until golden and center is firm to touch when pressed gently with fingertips. Turn off oven and cool in oven.

6 Comments on “Picnic Basket”

  1. Nice to be out, eh? I hope you have a great spring ahead! 🙂 I think the cake is as beautiful as anything I've seen from AGT 🙂

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