My new Berry Good Hazelnut Ricotta Cake is made up of ricotta cake layers, mixed berry ricotta, mixed berry compote, candied hazelnuts, and hazelnut buttercream.
Where Did This Cake Idea Come From?
I know what you’re thinking: where did this cake idea come from?! Like many of my cakes, it came from an unlikely place – an appetizer! A few weeks ago we were with some friends at HSL in Salt Lake, one of our favorite restaurants. Instead of ordering individual meals, we ordered several appetizers and desserts. One of the appetizers was sourdough toast with mixed berry ricotta, mixed berry compote and candied hazelnuts. I about died over the mixed berry compote! That on top of sourdough toast with the hazelnuts was just next level. We all loved it so much, we ordered a second!
After a single bite, I was already figuring out how to put these flavors into a cake.
Berry Good Hazelnut Ricotta Cake
- Ricotta cake layers – The cake layers are based off my Olive Oil Ricotta Cake, which is a tender and incredibly moist cake. You’ll notice, it’s a heavier cake than a light and fluffy vanilla cake, and that’s thanks to the two cups of ricotta. No worries, though, it’s not dense and doesn’t have a tight crumb at all. Certainly not like a pound cake, just more of a heavier cake than others you may be used to.
- Ricotta filling – for the ricotta filling, I made homemade ricotta (super easy) and added some of the mixed berry compote. You’ll find the same ricotta recipe in my Ricotta Beet Cake and my Blueberry Delight Cake. I love how the tangy cheese flavor pairs with the other flavors in this cake.
- Mixed berry compote The mixed berry compote is easy to make and so yummy. You can use fresh or frozen berries. Note: if you use frozen berries, you will use half the amount of water called for.
- Toasted candied hazelnuts – you know how I love a crunch in my cake! These toasted candied hazelnuts are the perfect addition to the creamy textures of the filling and buttercream.
- Hazelnut buttercream – for the buttercream, we’re adding a hazelnut paste for a beautiful, smooth flavor and texture. Be sure to read below about substitutes.
For the hazelnut buttercream, I’m adding a store-bought hazelnut paste. Hazelnut paste is very much a nut butter made of hazelnuts. If you can’t find hazelnut paste or don’t want to buy it, let’s talk about some alternatives.
What can I use in place of hazelnut paste?
HOMEMADE HAZELNUT BUTTER: In place of store-bought hazelnut paste, you can make your own hazelnut butter. To do this, you’ll start with about 2 cups of skinned hazelnuts. Using a food processor, blend the nuts until a paste forms. You may need to add a teaspoon or two of olive oil to help the process along.
Note: using a homemade hazelnut butter will result in a slightly more textured buttercream. It won’t look as smooth as mine, but will taste amazing.
HAZELNUT EXTRACT: If the nut butter and paste aren’t an option for you, another alternative is hazelnut extract or emulsion. I love the Lorann Oils Emulsions. Add one teaspoon of the extract or emulsion to your buttercream, give it a taste and add one or two more teaspoons depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
In my opinion, the hazelnut paste is the ideal option, but if you have to make a sub, you’ll be a-okay!
Helpful Baking Tips:
- Preheat oven 30 minutes before baking.
- Use room temperature ingredients.
- Spray your pan. Line with parchment paper.
- In the cake batter recipe, beat the oil, sugar, and eggs on high for a few minutes to get a smooth texture.
- Turn mixer to LOW once you add dry ingredients.
- Don’t over bake your cake layer. When you insert a toothpick in the center of the cake it should come out with a few moist crumbs on it.
How to Assembly This Cake
For a quick look at how to assemble this cake, check out my REEL.
For details about piping, check out this REEL.
More Berry Filled Cakes You’ll Love
FOR THE CAKE
- 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp (12 g) baking powder
- 1 tsp (6 g) salt
- 1 cup (218 g) olive oil, can also use vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups (350 g) granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp lemon zest, from one large lemon
- 2 cups (480 g) ricotta cheese, homemade or store bought – at room temperature
FOR THE RICOTTA/FILLING
- 2 cups (480 g )whole milk
- 3/4 cup (173 g) heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp (3 g) salt
- 1/2 tbsp (21.5 g) white vinegar
- *this makes enough for the filling If you also want homemade ricotta in the cake layers, double this recipe.
FOR THE COMPOTE
- 2 cups (260 g) fresh or frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (118 g) water, half this amount if using frozen berries
- 2 tbsp (18 g) corn starch, sifted
FOR THE TOASTED Hazelnuts
- 2 cups (260 g) chopped hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
FOR THE HAZELNUT BUTTERCREAM
- 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter, slightly cold
- 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured then sifted
- 1/2 cup hazelnut paste, I use this PASTE or you can 1-2 teaspoons hazelnut extract, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.
- 3 tbsp. (43.3 g) heavy whipping cream
- *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping you’ll want to make an extra ¼ – ½ batch.
FOR THE CAKE
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Cream the olive oil and the sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for one minute. Stir in the lemon zest.
Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix for an additional 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the ricotta, starting and finishing with the flour. Combine until incorporated.
Evenly distribute the batter among the three cake pans (about 16 ounces of batter in each pan) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
Let cool in pans 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, you can cover with plastic wrap and store in your refrigerator overnight or freezer for longer.
FOR THE RICOTTA/FILLING
FOR THE RICOTTA (best to make ahead of time): Combine the whole milk, cream and salt in a large pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and let boil, while stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Once the mixture has boiled for a few minutes, turn the heat off and add the vinegar. Give the mixture a stir and then let it sit for about 5 minutes. You’ll see the mixture start to separate into thick parts and thin parts.
Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and then place a damp cheese cloth over the mesh strainer. Pour the milk mixture over the cheese cloth. Let the mixture strain for about an hour. Discard the liquid in the bowl and pour the ricotta in a bowl to chill until ready to use. Can be made ahead of time and store in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days.
FOR THE FILLING: Combine the chilled ricotta with about ½ cup of the berry compote. You can use more, if desired.
FOR THE COMPOTE
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the berries to burst and the liquid to thicken. It should coat your spoon well. Turn heat off and all to cool slightly. Puree in blender or food processor. Strain out the seeds.
This is best made ahead of time and can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.
FOR THE CANDIED HAZELNUTS
FOR THE HAZELNUT BUTTERCREAM
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for about 2 minutes on medium-high speed. This helps to soften the butter without the butter getting too warm by sitting on the counter half the day.
Add the hazelnut paste. Mix on medium-high speed until well blended, making sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the cream. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the buttercream for about 3 to 5 minutes.
Before spreading on your cake, spend a couple minutes mixing the buttercream by hand with a wooden spoon to push out the air pockets.
Place the first cake layer, top side up, on a cake board or cake plate. Using a piping bag, pipe a rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake.
Fill the cake with ½ to ¾ cup berry ricotta filling, followed by ⅓ cup berry compote. Sprinkle on a handful of the hazelnuts.
Place the second cake layer on top and repeat step two.
Place the final cake layer on top and apply a thin layer of buttercream around the entire. Freeze the cake for about 10 minutes to set crumb coat.
Finish frosting the cake with the remaining buttercream.