Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

An Italian-inspired dessert full of summer strawberry goodness

Have you ever heard of philotomo? Even if you have never heard the word, if you have had the joy of visiting Greece, or known any Greeks, you have experienced it we’re sure. We’ve wanted to write about philotomo for a while, but have been hesitant because we suspect that anyone unfamiliar with the term would not be able to appreciate its significance by simply reading about it. Alas, that’s all we can do for now, so we’ll do our best. We’ll also somehow link it to this strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil, we promise!

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

The etymology of the word philotomo comes from two Greek root words; “philos” which means friend and “timi” which means honour. So, in a way, to express philotomo is to be a friend of honour, or perhaps it means to honour your friend. We’re not sure, and we’re not alone. Capturing and expressing the true meaning of the word is difficult, and that’s something that most people would agree on. So, instead of giving you a definition of philotomo which would surely fall short, we’re going to try to illustrate it, with stories.

Philotomo is our parents, inviting a young Greek man that they had met only briefly, into our home and our lives. Our mother worked for several years in a rehabilitation hospital and there she met a patient who had suffered a horrible accident and was subsequently confined to a wheelchair. He would come in for daily rehabilitation sessions and he and our mother would chat before she started her shift in the housekeeping department. Living alone in the city (his parents were in Greece) our parents felt compelled to help, in any way they could. And so, every week for several months until he was able to fly back to Greece, he was invited for dinner. Our father would pick him up and carry him into the car. He would leave with a belly full, and meals packed for several days. This is philotomo.

Our father started his work shift very early in the morning, leaving the house at 5 am every day. Because a few of his co-workers did not have a car, in the winter months he would leave earlier than he had to and drive out of his way to pick them up so that they didn’t have to wait for the bus in the cold. He never asked (or expected) compensation or anything else in return. He did this because this is what you do. This is philotomo.

We remember many occasions, visiting our parents’ villages in Greece and being invited into the homes of some of the older villagers. If they had only one loaf of bread, or only a few eggs or small bowl of olives, it didn’t matter. It would all be brought out and shared among their guests, with joy and an open heart. The general belief being that a smaller portion for yourself will be more satisfying, and more fulfilling, than eating alone. Sharing is seen as a privilege and a duty. This is philotomo.

When our guests, featured in More Kouppes and Xenes Kouppes, invite us into their homes and share with us their treasured family recipes and kitchen wisdom, they do so with generosity of spirit. They are gracious, inviting and loving, and all because we have asked them to share with us. This is philotomo.

And so, you may be wondering what an Italian-inspired dessert like this strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil has to do with philotomo. The answer is, nothing directly. Except that this is the kind of cake our parents would be sure to have on hand to offer to family, friends and even strangers, should they come by. There was never a plumber, a landscaper or a delivery man who entered our home that wasn’t offered something to eat or drink. And if they were not able to stop what they were doing to enjoy something delicious or refreshing, our mother would pack it up so that they could take it with them. She still does this, and she’s taught us to do the same. This is philotomo; a concept that may be difficult to define, but a blessing to experience and live by.


Helpful hints

What kind of ricotta should I use for this cake?

We used a 5% milk fat ricotta, and that worked out beautifully. Our suspicion is that any ricotta would do just fine however.

Beating the egg whites separately seems like extra effort. Is it really necessary?

You will see that this is a pretty dense cake batter. By whipping the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then folding them into the batter you produce an airy batter that will bake up fluffy and delicious. The texture of your cake will be softer than if you did not whip the egg whites. It is an extra step, but not one we suggest you omit.

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

Can I bake this cake in a bundt pan?

You can, if you double the recipe. A 9 inch cake pan such as the one we used holds a volume of 6 cups batter. A 10 inch bundt pan however holds 12 cups batter, so you would need to double the recipe, and of course adjust the baking time. Having never made this cake in a bundt pan we can’t confirm that it will work however.

Can I substitute a different type of oil for the olive oil?

Swapping out oils in recipes while baking usually works out just fine. It will however change the taste and colour of your final product. We love the combination of olive oil and ricotta in this cake and do not find the olive oil flavour over-powering, so we recommend that you follow the recipe as written. However, if you are looking to swap out the oil, you can use another oil with good results. You can also consider using 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 of another oil.

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil
Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

How about some other cake recipes? Check these out!

Neopolitan marble cake

Marble cake

Double chocolate zucchini cake

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Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

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Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

An Italian-inspired dessert full of summer strawberry goodness
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Greek, Italian
Keyword: Mia Kouppa cake, Mia Kouppa dessert, Ricotta cake, Ricotta cake with olive oil, Strawberry ricotta cake, Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil
Servings: 1 cake
Author: Mia Kouppa

Equipment

  • 9 inch cake pan
  • Stand mixer or hand held mixer

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • vegetable oil for greasing pan
  • icing sugar, optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a bowl toss the sliced strawberries with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour to coat. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl sift together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla powder (if you are using vanilla extract instead, see next step). Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer beat together the egg yolks and sugar. When well combined, add the ricotta and olive oil. If you are using vanilla extract, add it at this point as well.
  • With the mixer set to low, add in the flour mixture; you will end up with quite a thick dough. Fold in the strawberries either using a plastic spatula, or by setting your mixer speed to low for a few seconds. You don't want to over-beat at this point so that you don't break apart your strawberries.
  • Now it is time to beat your egg whites. If you also have a hand held mixer, this is a great time to use it. Otherwise, transfer the dough out of your stand mixer bowl in order to use the stand mixer to beat your egg whites. Beat them on high speed until stiff peaks form; this will take several minutes.
  • When your egg whites are ready, fold them into your cake batter using a rubber spatula. To finish incorporating them completely, you can once again set your mixer to low speed for only a few seconds to finish.
  • Grease the sides of your baking pan with a bit of vegetable oil. Pour your batter into the parchment lined 9 inch round cake pan.
  • Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 55 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing your cake from the cake pan
  • Once cooled, dust with icing sugar and serve.
  • Enjoy!

10 thoughts on “Strawberry ricotta cake with olive oil

  1. I enjoy reading and sometimes making the recipes you share, but beyond that, I love the stories you tell about your parents. This one in particular reminded me of my grandparents, who always had extra places set at their table. One of those was for the young Greek American serviceman whom my yiayia welcomed like a son. In 1948, he married my grandparents’ 19 year old youngest daughter, and three years later, I was born. My two sisters followed in the next five years. My grandmother died when I was 10, but in the many years of Sunday dinners at her house, there were always new faces around the dinner table, and they were always welcomed with love and generosity. Thank you for sharing this lovely story about your parents and reminding me of my own good fortune to have been introduced to such philotomo by my own grandparents. (And belated happy Canada Day to you!)

    1. Thank you so much Tina for your lovely message, and we are so happy to hear that you are enjoying Mia Kouppa – the recipes and the stories. As our stories are written, we remember details of days gone by and they bring us such joy. So happy that reading our posts is able to do that for you too! What a beautiful family you have, and how amazing your grandmother sounds – we’re sorry you lost her when you were so young. xoxo

  2. This cake is one of my faves! My guests enjoyed it too. I love how your recipes are easy to follow, especially for someone like myself who’s not the best in the kitchen.

    1. Thank you Vicky!! We are so thrilled that you tried our recipe, and that you and your guests enjoyed the cake 🙂 And we are so pleased that you find our recipes easy to follow…we try hard to make them very user friendly so to know that they are means everything!! Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  3. Hello, I’ve read the recipe back and forth and can’t find a bit of info, what degrees should I set the oven to? I guessed at 400 and burnt the cake.. 🙁

    1. Oh good grief!! It was not included in the recipe box! Thank you for bringing this to our attention – we have just edited the recipe. The cake bakes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re so sorry that you ended up burning your cake!! 🙁 🙁 🙁

  4. I loved this cake and so did everyone else! Great flavors and easy to make. This is a definite keeper, thank you!

    1. So happy to hear that Colleen. It is a great cake and we’re so happy that you enjoyed it as much as we do! Thanks for trusting our recipe 🙂

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