My friend Mad Mike is back in town, and every time he is in London, we feed him dinner. Last year, he brought his fiance, this year he brings his bride. Last time he came to visit, we made this with him, in Lisa’s kitchen. Valentines day is really named after the Roman Emperor of the West, Valentinian, rather than the more common Saint Valentine. Don’t let that stop you from spending money to stimulate the economy. This cheesecake is taken from a personal recipe book attributed to Valentinians personal chef, Celerius Tuber. So, I figure it is good to eat on his day, Valentines Day.
I stumbled across this original recipe many years ago, but never did get around to making it until just recently. After conquering Greece, the Romans made off with the secret of cheesecake as booty. It then passed into public knowledge, and throughout the centuries it has been adapted time and time again. Savory girl that I am, I never can resist indulging in cheesecake on occasion. Certainly one of my favorite treats. The inclusion of vanilla was the inspired idea of my trusty sous chef and after doing a bit of research discovered this is a common addition. These cheesecakes are rather like cheesy rolls and unlike any cheesecake I have had the pleasure to try. Very easy to prepare and oh so filling. Do be sure to use a good quality honey to compliment the ricotta cheese.
Thanks to my trusty sous chef for inspiration for this post.
Ancient Roman Cheesecake
1 cup of unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
1 large beaten egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 large bay leaves
1/3 cup of honey
Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
Put the flour into a large bowl. Beat the ricotta cheese in a small bowl until it is creamy and soft. Stir the ricotta into the flour along with the beaten egg and the vanilla. On a floured surface, knead the dough until soft and divide into four rounds. Place four bay leaves onto the baking sheet and top with dough. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes, until golden brown. Discard the bay leaves.
Heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium low heat and transfer to a serving dish. Add the cheesecakes and let sit for 30 minutes, flipping the cakes occasionally so that they absorb the honey.
Makes 4 hearty cakes.
More cheesecake from Lisa’s Kitchen:
Ricotta Cheesecake with Mixed Berries and Balsamic Vinegar
Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Mixed Berries
Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake
On the top of the reading stack: whatever strikes my fancy
Audio Accompaniment: Ben Harper