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« Winter Cooking Classes Scheduled! | Main | Poinsettia Cocktail »

Lemon Goat Cheese Cake

I was saddened last week to hear about the death of Gina DePalma at the age of 49.  She was the highly acclaimed pastry chef at Babbo and the recipient of numerous awards for her work.  I had written about her before in this post about making her Mosaic Biscotti (which includes a video of her).  Mario Batali called her "the mother soul of the entire kitchen" at Babbo.  

I would like to share with you Gina's recipe for Lemon Goat Cheese Cake that was served at Babbo.  Goat cheese has such a delicious tang and it's great in this cake. The cake is light and airy, unlike a cheesecake.  It has such a light texture because you separate the eggs and whip the whites into a meringue, which you then fold into the egg yolk batter.  The results are almost souffle-like. 

After the cake has cooled, a delicious lemon syrup is poured over the top and sinks down into the cake and adds even more lemony goodness.

Lemon Goat Cheese Cake

for a printable recipe, click here

note: the recipe calls for an 8" springform pan, but fear not if you don't have one - you can bake it in a 9" pan, also.  The baking time, really, is determined when the cake has set and is not jiggly in the middle, so just watch it to determine when it is done. 

1¼ cups plus 2 Tablespoons sugar, plus more for the pan
6 eggs, separated
1½ pounds fresh plain goat cheese
2 Tablespoons light rum
3 Tablespoons all purpose unbleached flour
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 Tablespoon plus ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 pints fresh raspberries

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle the bottom and sides with sugar, shaking out the excess.  Wrap a piece of heavy duty foil around the bottom of the pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar until the yolks are very pale. Slowly beat in the goat cheese, 1 cup at a time.  Add the rum, flour, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, the vanilla and salt and beat until creamy. 

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with a a pinch of salt until foamy.  Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue whisking until you have a soft peaked meringue.  Working in two batches, gently fold the whites into the cheese mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in a baking dish large enough to contain it comfortably. Pour enough hot water into the baking dish to reach approximately 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Cover the entire baking dish with aluminum foil and carefully place it on the middle rack of the oven. 

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake begins to rise slightly and is somewhat set in the middle (note: this took much longer for me - I baked the cake an extra 20 minutes before removing the foil because it was not nearly set enough).  Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or more until the cake is completely set. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the baking pan for several minutes. When the cake has cooled slightly, remove the pan from the baking dish (not the springform pan). Refrigerate the cake until completely chilled.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining ¼ cup of lemon juice and ¼ cup of sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil rapidly for 1 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Remove the sides of the springform pan, then spoon the lemon syrup over the cake to glaze. Cut into wedges and serve with the berries. 

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Reader Comments (19)

I was going to write something "funny" but when I saw the seriousness of the post and the unfortunate passing of a very talented chef I changed my mind. This is certainly a recipe that I want to do for a special occasion. The goat cheese sound so delicious. Thank you for sharing!!

A nice way to remember Gina DePalma. Her olive oil cake is one of my go to recipes and I will continue to think of her when I make it. I'll add this to my recipe list.

January 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

All my fancy bartender pals--the ones who call themselves 'bar chefs' or 'mixologists' to distinguish themselves from mere drink slingers--say that SEMI-fresh lemon juide is best. They recommen letting it stant for a couple of hours to develop maximum flavor. Haven't tried it, but will.

January 10, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbill marsano

Elaine, this looks a lovely tribute to Gina DePalma. Tell me, did you have any issues with the foil over the pan sticking to the cake? (I recently made a French apple cake recipe and had to butter the underside of the foil to keep it from sticking.) Or did you tent it in a way that it didn't rest on the top of the pan? Thanks!

January 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhan

Thank you for posting this recipe, so sorry for the loss of this lovely lady!
Her olive oil cake is on my "go to list" for a special dessert, thinking this lemon one will join the list.
Still looking for a ricotta cake, my Italian Grnadmother made...

January 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

From The Italian Dish:

Siobhan: I used Reynold's nonstick foil, my favorite. If you don't have this, just spray some foil with nonstick cooking spray before you place it over the cake. Yes, you certainly don't want it to stick! Hope this helps.

January 11, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I really don't care for the taste of rum. Could I use limoncello instead?

January 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggie

From The Italian Dish:

Peggie: That would totally work!

January 11, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Made this to follow a leg of lamb dinner with friends last night. It was a great end to a lovely dinner with it's light and refreshing flavor. Mine filled a 9" pan, not sure how it would ever fit in an 8". I was 4 oz. short of goat cheese so filled in with 4 oz. of mascarpone. Also no light rum but I always have limoncello in the freezer and it didn't take the lemon flavor over the top for me (but I do love lemon)

Suggestion for the recipe writer-add divided to sugar and lemon juice lines. I came close to adding 1 1/4 cups of sugar to the egg yolks.

January 18, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMary Beth Einerson

I never would have thought to use goat cheese in a cheesecake! This looks lovely, and I adore almost anything lemon flavored. Thank you for sharing!

What a great post. Children are so lovely and it brought back nice memories. I have a 26 yr old son who loves Goat Cheese so I am going to make this when I see him this summer. Thank you!

Any reason adding a vanilla wafer crust would be a bad idea?

February 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJon

From The Italian Dish:

Jon: That actually sounds delicious! Go for it. You could certainly do that.

February 7, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I can’t wait to try this! Looks so good :)

February 11, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterroberta

I can’t even imagine what this must taste like!

March 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDecio

Is it possible to freeze this and add lemon syrup after it has defrosted? Also, possible to refrigerate for a few days and how long? I am making for Easter and need to make it ahead by at least 2 days. Can't wait to try it!! Thanks

March 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoan S.

From The Italian Dish:

Joan: I have never frozen this, but I don't know why you couldn't! You can buy frozen cheesecakes, right? As for keeping it in the fridge, I would think it would be okay making it just two days before Easter. Of course, it's better when it's fresh but it should be okay.

March 21, 2016 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Did make this 2 days early and it was outstanding!! Many compliments! Froze the leftovers and just defrosted and had again last night - again wonderful with lots of compliments and requests for the recipe so thank you so much!!

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoan S.

I just had a goat cheese cheesecake at a local restaurant tonight, and it was superb! It had either a graham cracker or vanilla wafer crust. I'm not sure which, but tend to think it was the vanilla wafer. This cheesecake was served with mango purée and a bit of mango sorbet, which made the entire dessert refreshing on a hot evening, and quite, quite heavenly.
I believe the addition of lemon and raspberries would elevate even this superb cheese cake! The limoncello substitution mentioned by some sounds to be a worthwhile addition. We love lemon, too! I can't wait to try making this lovely dessert! Thank you for sharing this story and this lovely chef's recipe.

September 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

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