I love recipes passed down from generation to generation. I appreciate them even more when they are shared with someone who loves to cook (like me) even if they are not part of the family. I always ask for them whenever I eat something I enjoy and always seek them out in books and on the net. One of my greatest joys (and misses) is cooking with my mum. She was a marvelous cook but rather than spend time watching her, I took over for her. Not so much because I thought I was better (I never will be), but she was terribly disabled with arthritis and although the simplest thing like stirring a pot is easy for me, for someone disabled with rheumatoid arthritis as she was – it would become like stirring stones. So I missed the joys of working with her, especially since becoming a Chef. So in tribute to her and all of you who suffer from any illness I give you this recipe called “Louisa’s Cake” from the Food 52 website. Simple and beautiful, like my mum and you! 2017 Christmas Treat #12 – Louisa’s Cake.

I picked this recipe because the story behind it is beautiful (check it out on the Food 52 website). It is a remarkable legacy to someone who loves to cook. I like the simplicity and the taste of it. No changes to the recipe (this time) but I will make it again and again and again, and of course eventually make it mine. That’s what recipes are for. Start with good bones and then put as much meat around it as you like. I will stay true to the bones of it though, but will most definitely add something to it that will make it mine.

I always ask for recipes from anyone willing to share. I think the saddest thing is when someone says “it’s a family secret” – then don’t serve it to me, I won’t enjoy it. Recipes are legacies we leave behind for all to enjoy. Food is meant to be shared, be honored if someone asks you for your recipe, it is one of the nicest compliments you can get. I have some wonderful recipes from family and friends who love to cook and were willing to share their recipes and their techniques – now they are true food lovers. This recipe is the last in the 2017 Christmas Treat series. I can’t think of a better way to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy and safe New Year. May the good Lord bless you and shower his blessings on this joyous time. As always – enjoy!

9 tbsp. European style Churn 84 – unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 cup fresh ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 apple, peeled and grated (should yield about 1 cup) – I used 2 (they were small) Ambrosia, but as it didn’t specify, I’m sure any apple will work and give you the same moist and delicious cake
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting and serving

Heat the oven to 400f
Butter and flour a 9” or 10” springform pan – I used a 9” square pan as I am making this treat to go on my sweet table. This will cut nicely into rectangles and keep the “small” theme. I also suggest instead of flour that you use parchment paper to facilitate removal from the pan – still butter the bottom and sides of the pan though
In a stand mixer – with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes
When light and fluffy, set to the lowest speed and add the eggs one at a time until fully mixed
In a small bowl, mix the flour, salt, lemon zest, baking powder and apple
Slowly add the flour mixture and the ricotta – beat on low to mix
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes
Turn the cake out of the pan and cool completely on the rack
Sift confectioners’ sugar over the top or serve with your favorite seasonal fruit