Ricotta Revisited: Part 1, The Pound Cake

The best pound cake you'll ever make.

Whenever I bake, my husband’s co-workers are usually the lucky recipients of the goodies.

I load him up with the fresh, sweet treats to take to the office. And when he comes home in the evening, I await to hear what verdict has been rendered upon them.

Usually, they get the thumb’s up. But for one co-worker, there has always been a qualifier associated with them.

Ramin will happily nosh on one of my muffins or cupcakes. Then, he’ll tell my husband, “This is good. But when is your wife going to make that pound cake again?”

Apparently, this happens with regularity.

It doesn’t matter if it’s chocolate-chunk cookies or cinnamon-sugar dusted banana bread that I’ve made that week. Ramin will enjoy it, but deep down, he’s longing for the ricotta pound cake.

Since I can’t stand to see a grown-man in pound cake-pain (definitely not a pretty sight), I made him his beloved pound cake two weeks ago.

Ramin first tasted it a year and a half ago, when I first tried the incredible recipe from “Dolce Italiano” (W.W. Norton & Company) by Gina DePalma. I can’t blame him for lusting after it. I, do, too. As he exclaimed on his first bite, “It’s not dry like other pound cakes!” Indeed, this version is nothing like most cottony pound cakes. With 1 1/2 cups of ricotta (full-fat no less) mixed into the batter, this pound cake is so moist, rich, vanilla-y, and buttery.

The recipe says it’s actually better the next day because the crumb compacts and becomes more dense. But I actually like it just after it’s cooled down after being taken out of the oven. The crumb is a little fluffier then, and the top crust of the loaf is still crispy and crackly. Sometimes, I just want to tear the entire top off and devour it right then and there.

Try a slice.

A sprinkle of powdered sugar over the top of the loaf is all you need, though fresh berries are always a welcome addition, too.

Ramin, this one’s for you.

Ricotta Pound Cake

(makes one 9-inch cake, about 10 servings)

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 vanilla bean

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter, dust it with flour, and tap to knock out the excess.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream togther butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl after each addition. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds with blunt side of a small knife, then beat them into batter along with vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients to combine them, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat batter for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Pour batter into prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the top. Give the pan a few gentle whacks on the counter to remove any air pockets. Bake cake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking until the cake springs back lightly when touched, the sides have begun to pull away from the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes more. Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully invert it onto the rack to cool completely.

Dust cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving it; the flavor is best on the next day. Any leftover cake may be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days. The cake also freezes beautifully, wrapped in plastic, and place in a large, sealable plastic bag.

From “Dolce Italiano”

More ricotta recipes: Lemon Ricotta Muffins; Ricotta Biscuits with Dried Cherries, Apricots & Raspberries.

Tomorrow: Ricotta Revisited: Part 2, The Pasta Sauce.

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Date: Wednesday, 11. March 2009 5:27
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Cheese, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet)

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32 comments

  1. 1

    Oh, what a beautifully moist looking cake! Surely delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. 2

    That is a great pound cake! Now I’m craving it.

  3. 3

    Sounds wonderful with ricotta – gorgeous picture!

  4. 4

    Hey, what about my office? ;-) I bet the cake flour also really helps make this pound cake perfect. I love pound cakes but I can only eat a slice, or 2 ounces.

  5. 5

    So, sometime when you run one of those increasingly-popular blog contests and the prize is a tray of goodies for the winner’s office, can those of us who work from home still enter?

  6. 6

    Carolyn,
    Do you have to drain the ricotta? I notice that sometimes there is some liquid (whey?) in the ricotta tub.
    Lovely pictures…

  7. 7

    I’ve been on a life quest for the perfect pound cake and this is going to be the next one I try- you’ve convinced me!

  8. 8

    Can I please go work at your husband’s office????

  9. 9

    Tuty: The recipe doesn’t call for draining the ricotta. And the tub I bought was pretty thick, and didn’t have any liquid in it. The consistency of the one I used was probably like thick cottage cheese.

    JulieK: Well, since my hubby works essentially for the same company that laid me off, I’m not sure you really want to go work there — at least not in these precarious times for all media around the country. But maybe my hubby will let you come visit on a day I load him up with baked goods. ;)

    Carroll: Hah! I’ll have to see if that kind of prize is in this FoodGal’s budget to give out.

    And Single Guy Chef: Uhh, don’t you work for a health-care provider? Would they really let you in the doors toting this butter-ricotta-laden treat? Isn’t there a calorie-detector at the main entrance?

  10. 10

    oooh, I do love pound cake and yours look sooooo good – I can totally understand why your hubby’s coworker loves it so :)

  11. 11

    Now I have to go buy that cookbook. The poundcake sounds wonderful.

  12. 12

    That looks great! The crumb almost looks like a cross between pound cake and angel food.

  13. 13

    That sounds really good. A dense, dry pound cake is easy to make of course. It’s so heavy. The ricotta in this must really be a nice addition.

  14. 14

    Oh! My! God! Can I marry you? I LOVE pound cake–and have never had it with ricotta. Wow. I’m actually frickin’ drooling.

  15. 15

    Mark, you’ll have to take that up with my husband, Meat Boy! Hah!

  16. 16

    Now that is a gorgeous pound cake. My husband’s co workers ask for Dorie Greenspan’s world peace cookies :)

  17. 17

    Thank you for this pound cake. I am always making different ones and I am going to give this one a try. It looks delicious.

  18. 18

    I LOVE all things ricotta and adding it to pound cake sounds wonderful!!! Definitely going to print this out to give a try.
    ~ingrid

  19. 19

    I just found your blog and was immediately drawn to this recipe. I love ricotta in cookies, it must be wonderful in a pound cake. I will have to try this beauty! I can’t wait to sift through all your archives.

  20. 20

    I can definitely see from the pictures why anyone would long for this. Looks to be extra moist, unlike most other poundcakes I’ve had.

  21. 21

    I have kept on coming to this page and finally just had to make it… it is in the oven right now… if the batter gives the taste away, I know that it will be a favourite!!!

  22. 22

    Thank you!!!! I had been on a quest for the perfect poundcake and this fits the bill perfectly. I added 1/4 tsp almond extract and it was divine.

  23. 23

    Oooh, I bet almond extract WOULD be divine in this. I’ll have to add some the next time I bake this cake.

  24. 24

    This looks great. Did you bake exactly as the recipe directs? Do you ever use convection FOR BAKING cakes? And one last questions -, what kind of loaf pan did you use that browned so nicely? Thanks for the wonderful blog!

  25. 25

    Madelen: Yes, I baked the pound cake just as the recipe called for, though, the cake did take a little longer to bake in my oven. I have a gas oven, so that might have something to do with it. I think it took maybe 15 minutes more baking time.

    I used the Williams-Sonoma non-stick loaf pans. Actually, if memory serves me, I had gotten them as wedding gifts after registering for them. They work very well.

  26. 26

    One word,,,YUM>> Have got to try this recipe.. Looks and sounds delicious..I too wish I worked at your husbands office!

  27. 27

    This is sitting in my oven right now! 20 minutes to go!
    However, you forgot to mention this makes the best cake batter EVER. I seriously contemplated making a second cake without the eggs and eating it with a spoon. Well, maybe you didn’t mention it for Ramin’s sake. :D
    Anywho, Thank you for the recipe! I’m so excited to dig in!

  28. 28

    (I Figured I’d respond here and let everyone know :D )I LOVED the cake. It was so ridiculously moist! There’s only two of us in the house and it was almost completely gone by that night! We only saved two pieces so we could taste the “next day” flavor. Which was amazing as well, but I’m with you, straight out of the oven is unbeatable! And the crispiness and then the super buttery moistness. Ah I need more! This recipe has definitely converted me to a pound cake fan.
    And thanks again for the no-fuss recipe! Definitely a keeper! :)

  29. 29

    Virginia: Thanks for the wonderful comments. And I’m so glad I’m not the only one who could easily devour the entire top of this cake straight from the oven. ;)

  30. 30

    This cakes looks gorgeous – I’m so excited to be making it soon! I do have one question though – can I use more vanilla essence instead of a vanilla bean?

  31. 31

    Bridget: Yes, you can use more vanilla essence instead of a vanilla bean. The cake won’t have the pretty black seeds speckled throughout the batter and possibly not as intense of a vanilla flavor, but it should still be mighty tasty.

  32. 32

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