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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Ricotta-Semolina Cake with Caramelized Apples

Ricotta-Semolina Cake with Caramelized Apples

1¼ hours plus cooling

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Ricotta-Semolina Cake with Caramelized Apples

Free

Adapted from “Summer Kitchens” by Olia Hercules, this cake-cheesecake hybrid is inverted out of the baking pan to reveal a layer of silky, buttery, golden-hued apples. The ricotta-based cake is deliciously rich but whipped egg whites folded into the batter give the crumb a little lightness, while semolina lends both structure and texture. We suggest using firm, sweet apples that won’t easily break down with cooking; Honeycrisp, Fuji and Gala are good varieties. So that the egg whites achieve the proper amount of loft, be sure the mixer bowl and whisk attachment are perfectly clean, as any trace of fat will prevent full aeration. If you happen to have two bowls for your mixer, use one to whip the whites and one to mix the batter—no need to transfer the whites after whipping them. Store leftovers in the refrigerator tightly wrapped or in an airtight container for up to three days; bring to room temperature or gently rewarm in a 300°F oven for a few minutes before serving.

8 to 10

Servings

Tip

Don’t use artisanal or housemade ricotta. Regular supermarket ricotta works best in the recipe because it’s softer, moister and more finely curded than many high-end types. And be sure the ricotta is at room temperature before use. If it’s cold, it will cause the butter to stiffen and make mixing more difficult.

1¼ hours

plus cooling

28 grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, plus 170 grams (12 tablespoons) salted butter, softened, divided
2 medium crisp, sweet apples (about 8 ounces each), peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch-thick wedges
26 grams (2 tablespoons) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
Pinch of table salt
214 grams (1 cup) white sugar, divided
15 ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (see headnote), room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150 grams (¾ cup) semolina flour
Ingredients
  • 28

    grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, plus 170 grams (12 tablespoons) salted butter, softened, divided

  • 2

    medium crisp, sweet apples (about 8 ounces each), peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch-thick wedges

  • 26

    grams (2 tablespoons) packed dark brown sugar

  • 3

    large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • Pinch of table salt

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar, divided

  • 15

    ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (see headnote), room temperature

  • 1
  • 150

    grams (¾ cup) semolina flour

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack positioned in the middle. Mist an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line the bottom with a square of kitchen parchment and mist the parchment.
  2. 02
    In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, cook the 28 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, stirring, until the butter begins to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the apples, stir to coat, then distribute in an even layer. Cook without stirring until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, stir and flip the apples, then redistribute in an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and translucent, about another 2 minutes. Off heat, add the brown sugar and stir gently until melted and combined with the apples. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and gently press into an even layer that covers the entire bottom; set aside.
  3. 03
    In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, about 20 seconds. With the mixer running, add the salt, then gradually add 54 grams (¼ cup) of white sugar. Continue to beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl; reserve the mixer bowl and attachment (no need to wash them).
  4. 04
    In the now-empty mixer bowl, combine the remaining 170 grams (12 tablespoons) butter and the remaining 160 grams (¾ cup) white sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice. With the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds, after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Add the ricotta and vanilla, then beat on medium-low just until incorporated, 25 to 30 seconds; do not overmix (the mixture will not be smooth). Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold by hand with the spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, to ensure the mixture is well combined.
  5. 05
    Sprinkle the semolina over the ricotta mixture and fold with the spatula until incorporated. Scoop about ½ cup of the whipped egg whites onto the mixture and fold them in to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape on the remaining whites, then gently fold until no white streaks remain. Scrape the batter on top of the apples and, using a small offset spatula, gently spread into a smooth, even layer. Bake until golden brown and the center is just slightly wobbly when the pan is gently jiggled, 30 to 35 minutes.
  6. 06
    Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, 1½ to 2 hours. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment.
Tip: Don’t use artisanal or housemade ricotta. Regular supermarket ricotta works best in the recipe because it’s softer, moister and more finely curded than many high-end types. And be sure the ricotta is at room temperature before use. If it’s cold, it will cause the butter to stiffen and make mixing more difficult.
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Ricotta-Semolina Cake with Caramelized Apples

Get Ready to Cook

8 to 10

Servings

1¼ hours

plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use artisanal or housemade ricotta. Regular supermarket ricotta works best in the recipe because it’s softer, moister and more finely curded than many high-end types. And be sure the ricotta is at room temperature before use. If it’s cold, it will cause the butter to stiffen and make mixing more difficult.

Ingredients
  • 28

    grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, plus 170 grams (12 tablespoons) salted butter, softened, divided

  • 2

    medium crisp, sweet apples (about 8 ounces each), peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch-thick wedges

  • 26

    grams (2 tablespoons) packed dark brown sugar

  • 3

    large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • Pinch of table salt

  • 214

    grams (1 cup) white sugar, divided

  • 15

    ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (see headnote), room temperature

  • 1
  • 150

    grams (¾ cup) semolina flour

Step 1 of 6

Preheat the Oven

Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack positioned in the middle. Mist an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line the bottom with a square of kitchen parchment and mist the parchment.

Step 2 of 6

Cook the Apples

28
grams (2 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
2
medium crisp, sweet apples (about 8 ounces each), peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch-thick wedges
26
grams (2 tablespoons) packed dark brown sugar

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, cook the 28 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, stirring, until the butter begins to brown, about 30 seconds.


Add the apples, stir to coat, then distribute in an even layer. Cook without stirring until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.


Using a silicone spatula, stir and flip the apples, then redistribute in an even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and translucent, about another 2 minutes.


Off heat, add the brown sugar and stir gently until melted and combined with the apples. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and gently press into an even layer that covers the entire bottom; set aside.

Step 3 of 6

Beat the Egg Whites

3
large eggs, whites
Pinch of table salt
54
grams (¼ cup) white sugar

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, about 20 seconds.


With the mixer running, add the salt, then gradually add 54 grams (¼ cup) of white sugar. Continue to beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes.


Transfer the whites to a medium bowl; reserve the mixer bowl and attachment (no need to wash them).

Step 4 of 6

Make the Ricotta Mixture

170
grams (12 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
160
grams (¾ cup) white sugar
3
large eggs, yolks
15
ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese (see headnote), room temperature
1
teaspoon vanilla extract

In the now-empty mixer bowl, combine the remaining 170 grams (12 tablespoons) butter and the remaining 160 grams (¾ cup) white sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high until lightened and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping the bowl once or twice.


With the mixer running on medium-low, add the yolks one at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds, after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl. Add the ricotta and vanilla, then beat on medium-low just until incorporated, 25 to 30 seconds; do not overmix (the mixture will not be smooth).


Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold by hand with the spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, to ensure the mixture is well combined.

Step 5 of 6

Bake the Cake

150
grams (¾ cup) semolina flour

Sprinkle the semolina over the ricotta mixture and fold with the spatula until incorporated. Scoop about ½ cup of the whipped egg whites onto the mixture and fold them in to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape on the remaining whites, then gently fold until no white streaks remain.


Scrape the batter on top of the apples and, using a small offset spatula, gently spread into a smooth, even layer.


Bake until golden brown and the center is just slightly wobbly when the pan is gently jiggled, 30 to 35 minutes.

Step 6 of 6

Serve

Cool in the pan on a wire rack to room temperature, 1½ to 2 hours. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment.

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