Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Ricotta Pound Cake

So can I tell you all a (not so secret) secret? I haven’t been baking much lately. It’s probably been pretty obvious with the lack of new recipes, but I’m still sad to own up to it. The kitchen is my happy place, and I haven’t been making enough time for it lately. Instead, I’ve been trying to stuff myself with healthy foods (fresh fruit and veggies don’t exactly require a lot of prep work…), as much activity as my bum knee will allow, and as much fun as I can handle before surgery takes me down for a while.

I wasn’t scared about the surgery at all, at first. I was terrified of the recovery — how long I’d be away from the gym, out of my normal routine, not able to push physical boundaries, explore the outdoors painlessly, enjoy running and biking in the best months of the year, partake in all the fun that spring and summer bring. That was what scared me the most. But then the surgery started looming only days away instead of weeks, and I become terrified of the actual procedure itself. A nerve block. Anesthesia. Scalpels. Doctors “harvesting” my own hamstring and surgically implanting it into my knee. Cameras in my body. Stitches. Scars. People have surgery every day, and ACL and meniscus repairs are not only very common, but very minor on the surgery spectrum. Still to me, it’s scary. Surgery always comes with risks.

Ricotta Pound Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

To combat the encroaching fear, I decided in the finals days leading up to it that I’d pack in even more. An impromptu dinner out with a friend. A cozy cooking evening in. A restaurant opening. Loads of open houses. A foodie weekend with my mom and her best friend. A couple final rides out on the bike path. Extra kitty cuddling. Spring cleaning. Blogging. And eating copious amounts of ricotta cake.

Too often life goes too fast, and even though events like this surgery are entirely unwelcome, they’re also, ironically, a good reminder to slow down and be grateful. I have so much good in my life right now, and that’s worth a whole heck of a lot.

Ricotta Pound Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

Also worth a lot in my book? The comfort of food. Not to manage or mask feelings and emotions, but to enjoy with other people. To bring joy to someone in need of it, to act as a special treat at the end of a long day, to be a reason for bringing friends and family together. Food is a magical thing, and getting to share it with special people is hands down one of my favorite parts of life.

So I made this cake, and I talked it up. I shared it with friends, and enjoyed hefty chunks of it myself when I need a little pick-me-up. It’s a beautiful cake – golden all over and flecked with tiny specks of vanilla bean. It’s equal parts dense and moist, and so laden with buttery goodness that it feels like sheer sin to have even just a bite. It’s rich. It’s really a pound cake but in disguise, made infinitely better by the addition of ricotta cheese… another one of the food world’s most magical creations, but that’s a different story for a different day!

Ricotta Pound Cake recipe - Sweetly Serendipity

This cake is positively dreamy, and it’d make for a total crowd-pleaser at any spring or summer celebration you’ve got on the books. I had one slice with fresh strawberries, and the only thing that would have made it more mind blowing would’ve been a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. True bliss, I tell ya. Go make some! And if you don’t mind, say a quick little prayer for safe surgery and speedy recovery… I’m headed in tomorrow, and would really appreciate it.

I’ll see you on the other side!

Ricotta Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta (I used part-skim)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (you can also use 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out)
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or butter, then dust it with flour to coat.
  2. In a medium bowl, add both flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), cream together butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. The batter may look curdled but don't worry!
  4. Add the vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean seeds) and the vanilla extract, then continue beating to incorporate. With your mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients, and mix just to combine. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and mix again to be sure everything is incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake cake for 20 minutes at 350, then turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning, and lower the temperature to 325 degrees F. Continue baking until the cake is golden brown, 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 30 to 35 minutes more.
  6. Allow cake to cool completely in pan, then carefully invert onto a serving plate.
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