Remember This Awesome Ricotta Pound Cake Recipe From Pastry Chef Gina DePalma?

The woman behind the best ricotta pound cake ever.

If you’ve ever baked it, you’ll never forget it. It’s that good.

And if you’ve loved eating it as much as I have, then you’ll want to help the wonderful woman who created it, who is now waging a battle against cancer.

Pastry Chef Gina DePalma of Babbo. (Photo courtesy of Gina DePalma)

The ultra talented, James Beard-award-winning Gina DePalma, the pastry chef of New York’s acclaimed Babbo, was diagnosed last year with ovarian cancer that had spread throughout her body. After surviving a nine-hour surgery last year that left her hospitalized for a month, as well as the ravages of six rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer is now in remission. But the 42-year-old is now fighting to regain her strength and health. She’s now only able to work part-time at Babbo.

“I alternate from being hopeful, and grateful that we caught this when we did, to being shocked and stunned that it happened to me,” DePalma says. “I get angry, sad, and truly terrified at what lies ahead. Getting cancer is an isolating experience, even if you are surrounded by as much love as I have been.”

She started a non-profit to help publicize her battle, and to help spread the word about this affliction, which claims so many women each year. Her Cowgirl Cure Foundation will be hosting a cocktail reception on May 18 at Jim Lahey’s New York pizza joint, Co., to benefit ovarian cancer research at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Tickets are $250 per person. Contact David Semanoff at for more information.

Beginning today, there also will be a benefit auction to raise funds for the medical center’s research. Among the items you can bid on are dinner for four at Babbo, and a dessert party for four at your house with DePalma. The auction will run for 10 days, so be sure to get your bids in now.

Her hope is that screening for ovarian cancer will some day become as routinely incorporated into a woman’s ob/gyn visit as tests for breast cancer are.

“When the chips came down on me, my friends from the food world answered the call,” DePalma says. “They came to my bedside, and have stood by me. Now that I am going public, I know that the food world at large will hear my rallying cry and stand up next to me as I take this on.”

Ironically, it was last year when she was in Italy to research her next cookbook that she started feeling ill. She still hopes to complete that second book by the end of the year. It will delve even deeper into the culture of Italian desserts, and focus on specific regional specialities.

Sicilian pistachio bars

Meantime, enjoy baking her ricotta pound cake, Sicilian pistachio bars, and calcioni pastries, all from her first book, “Dolce Italiano” (W.W. Norton & Co.). If you’re at all worried about the recent pistachio recall, just go here to make sure yours are safe.

And let’s hope DePalma’s story turns from bittersweet to positively sweet.

Tender, cheese-filled calcione with a whisper of sweetness.

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Date: Monday, 11. May 2009 4:52
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Chefs, General, Health/Nutrition, Pizza

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  1. 1

    A gorgeous cake! I hope she gets better…



  2. 2

    I hope she recovers soon and completely. She is so talented and this cake is just beautiful.

  3. 3

    People like Gina are so inspiring – to see how their strength of character helps them persevere. I hope she can beat her terrible disease. I’ll post the dates for these events to help further raise awareness.

    The cake sounds delicious – the combination of ricotta and cake just has perfection written all over it. Actually all the recipes sound so good, may have to discover my baking mojo – feel like its left the room lately.

  4. 4

    I hope she can beat her disease – she is too young for that nonsense, and has so much more she can share with the pastry world.

  5. 5

    Sad to hear that. Cancer is a rough one, but it can be beat!

  6. 6

    We live in an age of medical miracles — here’s hoping there’s one with her name on it!

  7. 7

    How did I miss this delectable cake the first time around? What a story, wow wish I could bid on a dessert party for four with DePalma at my house!

  8. 8

    She is amazing. So talented and so strong. I cried when I heard she won at Beard. :)

    I might have to make this pound cake very soon!! Thanks for posting!

  9. 9

    I do love that pound cake. I had no idea she was going through this and wish the best for her.

  10. 10

    so sad. I hope she raises tons of money for research!

  11. 11

    I’ll be looking forward to her second book. I hope she gets better.

  12. 12

    Glad to hear she is in remission and can’t wait to check out her cookbook! I will do what I can to help.

  13. 13

    Wow what an amazingly strong woman. Thank you for another insight into the people who craft the foods we love.

  14. 14

    Thank you for sharing Chef DePalma’s story! I will enjoy making these recipes while keeping in mind her courageous fight.

  15. 15

    The cake is indeed a winner and I pray that she recovers fully.

  16. 16

    I love making pound cakes for my family and friends.. there sooo easy to make too!

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