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.