**If you're making the baked ricotta you have to start it 3-4 days in advance!**
This was a simple, not-to-sweet dessert after a pretty heavy, cheesy meal - I had seconds, then lay on the ground for a while. The combination of the soft buns, creamy ricotta and tart preserve was, and I hate to praise myself, QUITE GOOD. How sweet the preserve is will depend on how soft your apricots are. It was early in the season when I made this and the ones I bought were pretty hard, so my preserve was slightly sour, which I like. You might want to balance it out with a bit more sugar though if you like a sweeter dessert.
I'm not going to add a recipe for the buns, because I got it straight out of a book called Honey & Co. The Baking Book. I've (...for now...) given up trying to make up my own baking recipes - This year I've made one too many rock-hard sponges for my delicate ego to take. If you have a good scone/sweet bread roll recipe you should use that, otherwise you can Google one, or just buy the Honey & Co. book cause it rules.
1kg Ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon melted butter
About 3-4 days before your dinner, you have to hang the ricotta up to drain it. Line a strainer/colander with some cheese cloth or clean chux (or pretty much any clean material - I used a cheap cotton shirt I'd never worn) and tip the ricotta in. Put the strainer in a big bowl or pot in the fridge to catch the water.
After a few days, tip your ricotta gently out onto an oven rack covered with baking paper. Rub it gently with a bit of melted butter, then bake for 10-20 minutes, until it's golden brown on top. Drizzle a heap of honey over the top, then sprinkle cinnamon (you could use other spices too, like cloves and cardamom - my tum was just pretty full by this time and I wanted to keep it simple) and crushed nuts over the top.
10 apricots, halved
A few sprigs of thyme
A few strips of lemon peel (use a potato peeler)
Juice of one lemon
350g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use this 'vanilla bean extract' stuff that's like $8 a bottle but pretty good (actual vanilla beans are like $5 each, but if you wanna use them go nuts) - vanilla essence would probably do too though).
Lay the halved apricots out on a tray, scatter the thyme, lemon peel, and vanilla over the top. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top, then sprinkle with the sugar, covering all the apricots.
Cook for 5 minutes at 190 degrees, then turn the oven down to 170 degrees for 15 minutes. Take them out of the oven - by now a syrup should have formed at the bottom of the tray. Using a spoon, pour this syrup over the apricots, basting them.
Put them back in the oven at 140 degrees for another 10-15 minutes until they're completely soft and jammy. Spoon into jars and cover with syrup to keep for a few weeks - or just put it in a bowl in the fridge if you're using the preserve in the next couple of days.