Summer fruit and ricotta sponge
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
Grated zest of 2 lemons
Icing sugar – to taste
Fresh fruit – see recipe
Beat the butter to a cream. Add the sugar and cream together thoroughly until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of the flour. Beat each addition into the mixture very thoroughly before adding the next.
Add half the lemon zest, a tablespoon or two of the juice and the remaining flour, and incorporate this well into the mixture. Line a 20 cm cake tin with two or three layers of greaseproof paper, or a non-stick cake liner, pour in the cake mixture, and bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C/350˚F, mark 4 for about 30 minutes or until the cake is firm and pale golden brown. When cooked, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake will emerge clean.
Turn the cake onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely. If necessary the cake can be baked the day before required and stored in an airtight tin once completely cool. The cake can also be frozen for future use.
To finish the cake, split it in half. Beat the ricotta until smooth, stir in the remaining lemon zest and a couple of teaspoons of juice. A tablespoon of icing sugar should sweeten the mix sufficiently, or you may prefer not to use it, and enjoy the contrast between the plain filling and the sweet cake. Have your prepared fruit ready. This might be blueberries or raspberries in which case they will need nothing doing to them other than rinsing and drying. Strawberries and cherries are best halved. Peaches and apricots I like to poach lightly then slice.
Spread the ricotta filling on one half of the cake. Arrange the fruit on top, and place the other half of the cake on top. Just before serving, sift icing sugar on top.