• Serves: 6-8
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes + chilling time
  • Cooking Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy

This is a slightly unusual cheesecake in that it has no biscuit base, but it really doesn’’t need one; there’’s so much delightful flavour and texture going on within the cake. Instead, you have a delicious dense, crumbly filling, rich with emerald chunks of pistachio, studded with golden candied peel and plump, sherry-soaked raisins, fragrant with citrus zest and beautifully light and fluffy from the ricotta cheese.

 

I find myself using oranges far more when I can get my hands on blood oranges. They add a stunning colour to all sorts of dishes, where their vibrant flavour,– sharper and more intense than a normal orange,– is a beautiful treat. I use them in salads (delicious with oily fish or chicken), smoothies (delicious with fresh strawberries and a splash of orange flower water), and chopped over muesli or porridge (particularly good with a rhubarb compote).

Blood oranges work best in recipes where their gorgeous colour really gets a chance to shine. This cheesecake is a perfect vehicle to showcase them. Inspired by the home of the blood orange, Sicily, it features many of the typical components of a Sicilian dessert: ricotta cheese, pistachios (Sicily produces some of the best in the world), candied peel and,– of course,– citrus fruits.

To top it all off, the cake is decorated with dazzling slices of blood orange, providing a lovely sweet-tart foil to the creamy cake beneath. It’’s an extremely simple cake to make, but the orange decoration adds a real wow-factor, and makes it the perfect dessert to brighten up those days when it feels like spring has yet to arrive.

 

here's what you'll need...

For the Cake:

  • 2 heaped tbsp sultanas
  • 2 tbsp sherry, marsala or orange juice
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 500g ricotta cheese
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 40g mixed peel
  • 60g pistachios, roughly chopped, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 blood oranges, for decoration

For the glaze (optional):

  • Juice of 1 blood orange
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatine

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tip

If you can’t find blood oranges but still want to try the recipe, normal oranges work just as well so just substitute them for the blood oranges – it’ll still be a gorgeous citrussy treat!

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set oven temp: 200C/gas mark 6

here's how it's done...

  • 1

    Soak the sultanas in the sherry/orange juice and hot water for one hour.

    Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan). Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ricotta, icing sugar and eggs.

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  • 2

    Add the mixed peel, pistachios, sultanas (drained), and orange and lemon zest. Mix together gently.

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  • 3

    Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake for 45 minutes until puffed up and golden on top, with a slight wobble left in the middle (it will continue to cook as it cools). Leave to cool in the tin.

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  • 4

    Once the cake is cool, decorate with the oranges while still in the tin. Slice the top and bottom off each orange, then, using a sharp serrated knife, slice off all the pith, removing as much white as possible. Then cut the oranges widthways into thin slices, arranging over the top of the cake.

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  • 5

    To make an orange jelly glaze for the cake (it makes it nice and shiny, but is by no means necessary), heat the blood orange juice in a small pan until just beginning to boil. Stir in the brown sugar, then scatter over the gelatine. Leave for one minute, then whisk in the gelatine. Pour the mixture over the top of the cake while still in the tin.

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  • 6

    Scatter with the pistachios, then chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. Remove from the fridge around half an hour before serving.

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By Elly McCausland on 28.05.13

Guest Contributor

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