2 x 420g tins apricot halves in light syrup, drained and 75ml syrup reserved
80g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar
For the ricotta sponge
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
400g ricotta, at room temperature
4 free-range medium eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
350g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Crème fraîche to serve
Heat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Blot the apricot halves dry with kitchen paper. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat, then beat in the sugar with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes until the mixture has emulsified. Pour into the cake tin, then place the apricots on top, cut-side down, until they fill the bottom of the tin (you may have leftover apricots).
To make the sponge, beat the butter, ricotta and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the eggs, little by little, then beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
Combine the flour, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl, then whisk into the wet ingredients to form a smooth batter. Pour over the apricots and level with a spatula. Bake for 70 minutes (put a baking tray on the rack below to catch any drips) or until golden and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean.
Near the end of the cooking time, warm the reserved apricot syrup in a small pan. Once out of the oven, poke holes into the top of the cake using a skewer, then immediately drizzle the syrup over the top. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche.