You Know What They Say (A Simple Spring Cake)

I was so, so happy when the email came through Friday to announce that school was closed for the day. It was the first day of spring, and in our part of Pennsylvania, the beautiful, warm weather of the day before had dissolved into…snow. A lot of it, all at once.

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My Facebook feed lit up with complaints, and a lot of fist-shaking at the sky, and mild cursing about the horrors of snowflakes in the springtime.

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Now, I despise, despise, despise snow with pretty much every sunshine-and-salt-water-loving cell of my body. But I love me a snow day. I don’t see why the two have to be associated with each other, but like a lot of stuff in life, a cruddy thing (SNOOOOOWWWW) often begets a good thing (no alarms! pajamas! kids building Legos and drawing pictures and making up plays!).

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Lemons and lemonade, and all. You know.

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So, I was in this hazy mist of happiness up until maybe 11 o’clock or so, when the oldest child got mad at the middle child for something or other, and the middle child dissolved into very loud, high-pitched cries, and then the youngest child decided that he didn’t like all the noise and started crying, too and wouldn’t stop until he’d been properly hugged and patted. I’d already thrown my to-do list out the ice-frosted window, because what with all the cries for snacks and clean diapers and MOM-SAOIRSE-SCRATCHED-ME-NO-I-DIDN’T-SHE-KICKED-ME-FIRST, I’m realizing that unless I get all these kids signed up for activities–LOTS OF ACTIVITIES–for the summer, like, pronto, June and July are going to be very loud (with regard to the kids) and vaguely alcoholic (with regard to me) months.

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So. Once all the kids had their Band-Aids on and made their apologizes and promises to not push each other into table corners anymore, I decided it was about time to make a cake. I’d seen this one–a simple spring cake–pop up on Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette that week, and it’d been nagging at my brain ever since.

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It was such an easy cake–no mixer, no crazy ingredients, no chance for me to really mess it up–and all of a sudden that moment, after the last kid-battle and before the next, was the perfect time to make it. And we fell in love with it.

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The original recipe calls for frozen raspberries, but I can see this with any kind of frozen fruit, or fresh berries as they come into season, or sliced peaches at the end of the summer. I’m imagining picnics with ice cream on the plate beside a slice of this stuff, brunches with this set on the table as a dessert, breakfast (*cough*, because I may have done this already) with a hard-boiled egg and green smoothie.

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This time, the kids had it with a drizzle of chocolate on the top (I know, I know. It’s Lent. We’re supposed to be more pious, use restraint. But this cake has just a cup of sugar and it’s filled with cheese [protein!] and fruit [good for you!]. And I subbed in white whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose, so it’s almost like…healthy. Sort of. Not really). Try a little sifted confectioner’s sugar on top after it’s cooled, or maybe some whipped cream.** So many possibilities, so many delicious ways to keep your children happy and excited and at peace with each other for the scant half hour or so it takes for them to help you whip this thing together.

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Oh, and that’s the good thing about this cake, too: I had three mini helpers with this one. I messed up a step or two in the confusion, and this cake still came out perfectly. If that’s not enough of a selling point for you, well. Then I’ll just eat it all myself.

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Raspberry-Ricotta Cake (slightly adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Bon Appetit, March 2015)


  • 1 ½ cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups whole-milk ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries, divided


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan (I used a slightly larger springform), and press a round of parchment paper into the bottom. Grease the parchment, too.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, ricotta, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir the ricotta mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Fold in the butter*, then ¾ cup of the raspberries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it evenly. Scatter the remaining raspberries on top.

Bake the cake until it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool completely (I left it in the pan) before serving.

* I accidentally mixed the butter straight into the ricotta instead of folding it in later (so many children! so many voices in my head!), and it turned out fine.

** Here’s the easiest party trick/whipped cream you’ll ever make: Fill a mason or other glass jar about halfway with heavy cream. Add a touch of sugar (I just use a teaspoon or so) a bit of vanilla extract (about 1/2 teaspoon). Shake, shake, shake until you don’t hear liquid sloshing around in the jar anymore. Unscrew the lid, and voila: whipped cream ready to eat from the jar garnish your slices.

Yield: 8 servings from a 9-inch pan, 10-12 from a 10-inch

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