Sunday, March 6, 2011

ricotta pound cake

To say I've been doing little more than sketching, playing the piano, and eating since coming home for break would be a lie. But then again, that's not the least bit surprising.

Nor is it surprising that after scarcely 48 hours of being home, I've been asked to bake. This is basically what happens whenever I come home after weeks at University.

Me, through a smothering embrace: You, too, mom.
Mom, steps back and studies my face for a minute: I can tell you've been baking.
Me, rolling my eyes: Thanks.
Mom, grinning and poking me in the side: Better watch the carbs! Oh! You've missed so much Outsourced! We have all the episodes TiVo-ed for you.
Me, trying to move into the living room to put down my bag: Er, great.
Mom, following: I know right! Oh yeah, don't forget to make dad's cake tomorrow.

And so here we are. I'm not sure if I've mentioned before, but my father is rather...particular about what foods he enjoys. Which translates into: he eats what he likes, and only what he likes. And he doesn't like much. He also doesn't have much of a sweet tooth at all, so he could really care less about all my baking endeavors. That is, until it comes to morning cakes. Coffee cake, pound cake, 1-2-3-4 cakes, what have you. The reason is likely because he basically only eats three meals a day: breakfast [which consists of tea and a slice of cake or biscotti], dinner [always Pakistani food], and an enormous bowl of ice cream [butter pecan].

Yeah, I'm related to him.

Usually I make him Ina Garten's sour cream coffee cake, which is his favorite, but mom wanted me to try a pound cake, since my last attempt failed in a most spectacular fashion. I obliged, nervous as I was about it, and decided on a ricotta pound cake.

Ricotta Pound Cake
Adapted from Food Gal 

You'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour [see note]
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line and grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, and ricotta cheese on medium-high speed until light, 2-3 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in dry ingredients. Once dry ingredients are just combined, increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared pan and tap against the counter two or three times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool to room temperature before cutting. Sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top, if desired.

It turned out so much better than my last attempt!! I'm quite pleased. The ricotta makes this cake deliciously moist, and the texture is soft and light. It's not too sweet, either, as I suspect the ricotta cuts some of the sweetness.

Back to Cville tomorrow. I'm rather excited about having Cville all to myself, again, even though it will be full of work and studying. Maybe I'll get to finish the book I've been putting off for the past 6 months...


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