Baking · Cake · Central America · Nation Cake Challenge

Mexico: Ricotta, Lime and Vanilla Cake

This delicious cake was taken from the book Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home by the brilliant Thomasina Miers.  One of my favourite restaurants to eat at when in London, she focuses on fresh and simple Mexican street food. This recipe traditionally would use a curd cheese called requeson, however Miers suggests ricotta as a good equivalent. The cake is moist and dense, but surprisingly light and fresh – definitely one to make again!

Ricotta cake 2

Ricotta Cake 1

Ricotta, Lime and Vanilla Cake


  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 65g plain flour
  • grated zest and and juice of six limes
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 300g ricotta cheese


  • 75g ricotta cheese
  • 30g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 2 (300°F/150°C) and grease a 24in springform tin ready for use later. Line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper.

Combine the ground almonds, flour and lime zest in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together, before beating in the vanilla essence. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time before stirring in the flour mixture. In a different bowl, combine the ricotta and lime juice, before adding to the cake mix and combining well.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then start to fold into the mixture. Use a spoonful to loosen the mixture before folding in the rest, being careful to not take out too much of the air. Place in the cake tin and bake for an hour, until the cake is just set and slightly golden brown. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make the icing, beat the butter and ricotta together before beating in the icing sugar and lime zest. Beat with a mixer for several minutes until thick and smooth. Smooth over the cake, and decorate with extra lime zest as required.

Cake · Central America · Cupcakes · Nation Cake Challenge

Puerto Rico: Pina Colada Cupcakes

The Pina Colada cocktail was invented by a Puerto Rican bartender in 1952, a drink to showcase the new coconut cream. His position of bartender at the the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico gave him an unprecidented opportunity for his new drink – as the first luxury hotel to open in the San Juan area, he had many rich and famous clients who duly spread the work of this new cocktail throughout the world.

pina colada cupcakes

This delicious cocktail is full of tropical flavours which work especially well as a cupcake. The cake is a pineapple coconut cake, which is then drenched in a rum drizzle, before being topped with a coconut buttercream, and toasted coconut. The cupcakes could also be decorated with a dried pineapple flower if wished. The recipe for the flowers can be found here, and is extremely simple to complete, thus being well worth the effort.

pina colada cupcakes 2

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Baked Perfection

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice
Pina Colada Frosting
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Dried pineapple flowers (see here) and dessicated coconut
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with liners.
Cream together the butter and sugar, before adding the eggs, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the batter, alternating with spoonfuls of coconut milk and pineapple until all ingredients have been combined. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
To make the frosting, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy, adding the coconut milk in gradually to create a thick frosting. Spoon onto the cupcakes, before topping with toasted coconut and a dried pineapple flower.
Baking · Central America · Cupcakes · Nation Cake Challenge

Cuba: Cuba Libre Cupcakes

Flag of Cuba

With summer just around the corner, cocktail season is coming, and one of the most common would no doubt be the Cuba Libre (colloquially known as a ‘Rum and Coke’ – rather more boring). This highball cocktail like many is of debatable origin, suggestions including being invented by expatriates avoiding prohibition in the 1920’s to Bacardi’s flawed account that it was invented during the  Spanish-American War when an American general ordered this drink in Havana. Seeing how much he enjoyed it, his soldiers ordered a round, toasting the newly-freed country by shouting ‘¡Por Cuba Libre!’ (Issues have been raised with his account as the introduction of Coca-Cola to Cuba happened 2 years after the other events, however it still remains the official account.)

Whatever the origin though the cupcake still remains one of the most popular drinks around. This cupcake pays homage to this drink and includes a chocolate and Coca-Cola cupcake, flavoured with a little rum. The cupcake is filled with a dark chocolate lime ganache and topped with a rum-flavoured buttercream. The cupcakes are then decorated with a Coca-Cola reduction and topped with a slice a lime and some lime zest.

Cuba Libre Cupcakes 2

The cake recipe is taken from Coconut and Lime blog, from here.

Cuba Libre Cupcakes 1

Cuba Libre Cupcakes


The cupcakes:

  • 8oz/225g plain flour
  • 8oz/225g sugar
  • 120ml Coca-Cola
  • 8oz/225g butter
  • 60ml milk
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

The Lime Ganache:

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200ml double cream
  • zest of 1 lime

Rum Buttercream:

  • 80g salted butter
  • 275g icing sugar
  • 10ml milk
  • 10ml rum


  • 12 slices of lime
  • 30ml Coca-Cola
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • lime zest, to finish


Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 and line a 12-hole tin with cupcakes liners. Melt the butter, Coca-Cola and Rum in a small pan and bring to the boil, before removing from the heat and allowing to cool. Mix the milk and the lime juice in a cup and leave for about 10 minutes – this will split and look disgusting, however it is correct, so trust me! Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and mix briefly before beating in the cooled butter/Coca-Cola/rum mixture. Beat in the egg and the milk mixture and mix to form a thin batter. Fill the cupcake cases to about 2/3rds full, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes onto a wire baking rack and leave to cool completely.

Make the chocolate ganache by heating the cream to nearly boiling point, and pour over the dark chocolate, stirring until melted and combined. Add the lime zest and leave to cool. Remove the centre of the cooled cupcakes using either a cupcake corer or a sharp knife, and spoon a little ganache into the centre of each cake.

Make the buttercream by mixing the butter, icing sugar, milk and rum until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes with an electric mixture.  If it is a little thin, then add in a little more icing sugar. Transfer to the piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes, ensuring the ganache-filled centre is covered.

Finally, reduce the Coca-Cola and sugar in the pan until it is thick and syrupy. Leave to cool and then drizzle over the top of your cupcake, before decorating with the slice of lime and the lime zest.

Enjoy, preferably set outside with an actual Cuba Libre.