As a follow up to the last post at Lemon Tart, where I told you my obsession with homemade ricotta, I thought you might like to know what exactly you should do with that beautiful cheese, should you find yourself with too much to eat by the spoonful.
When there's only 2 of us in the house, neither of whom love a tall glass of milk at dinner (sorry, Mom), 1/2 gallon of, albeit beautiful, milk a week eventually gets away from us. I make plenty of ice cream (especially with my new toy!) and any other custard based desserts are the puddings of dreams with this bovine elixer, but eventually something else needs to be done with that 2 litres of fresh, alive milk.
Early on I learned to make yogurt, a beautiful breakfast treat that I think I might need to make easier and more fun with the addition of a yogurt maker.(If Rosa can justify it, perhaps I can). But then I discovered that my favourite use for excess milk was to make homemade ricotta, and now I have a raw ingredient that means good things for weekly meal plans. Fluffy ricotta gnocchi, a partner with nettles for ravioli, a sprinkle on tacos.
And then there's this cake. A cake I don't recommend making if you are hungry. I assure you this will spoil your dinner, and it makes me think I should rename the cake to "Dinner Spoiling Poundcake", although somehow that doesn't sound as mouthwatering. But once it comes out of the oven you are not going to be able to hold yourself back - so make it for breakfast.
This cake has ruined me for the classic. While some might see the replacement of some of the butter with ricotta cheese as a calorie adjustment, what's really going on is a pound cake on steroids! The ricotta adds a softness that the original just doesn't have. And don't worry, you really don't need homemade ricotta to make this cake. Store bought works fine too, just has to be drained more.
It's nearing the end of the citrus season and my body must know that because its craving orange on everything short of scrambled eggs. A healthy does of tangerine or orange zest alongside the ricotta and butter make this cake almost creamsicle like, and so much lighter than the classic. A bright, easy to prepare marmalade glaze forces you to use your preserves for more than toast and adds a beautiful sheen. It also serves as preserving agent allowing this cake to last for days. But this one won't last long and is really so perfect with my afternoon tea.
Orange Ricotta Pound Cake
adapted from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 fine salt
6oz/ 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
zest of 1 large tangelo or two tangerines
1 vanilla bean
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp dark rum
1 cup orange marmalade
If using store bought ricotta, put a little more than needed in a fine sieve or a sieve with a coffee filter inside. Let the ricotta drain while you gather all of your ingredients. This can be done ahead of time in the fridge. You don't want the ricotta to look really wet, but do not drain it so long that all moisture is lost. how much you drain will depend ont the ricotta you use. If you make your own you won't need to drain at all, but store bought will need at least 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Make sure oven rack is in the centre of the oven.
Grease a 4 mini loaf pans with butter then line the bottom and two sides with one piece of parchment paper with a couple inches hanging over each side.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Place sugar in a medium bowl. Using a micro-plane grater, zest the orange over the sugar. Split the vanilla bean with the tip of a knife running it along the length of it. Using the back of the knife scrape the seeds into the sugar mixture. Use this technique to extract all of the essential oils by rubbing together the zest and vanilla seeds into the sugar. This will also extract maximum amount of vanilla flavour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and cheese about 2 minutes on medium speed until smooth and light. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Beat in rum. On low speed add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed ONLY until dry ingredients are incorporated.
Pour batter into pan, smoothing top. It will look quite full. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 325 and continue baking until well browned, cake springs back a bit when poked and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. This should be another 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, loosen un papered side with a knife and then carefully lift the cake out of the pan with the parchment flaps.
Prepare the glaze:
Warm marmalade in microwave or small saucepan over med low heat. Heat so that it melts. Strain the peels from the marmalade and use the jelly to glaze the cakes on all sides. This can be done while the cakes are still warm. This glaze will add more lovely orange flavour and will help to keep the cake moist. If you plan on freezing any of them, so not glaze them, but rather wait to glaze them when you defrost them.
This cake keeps 3-4 days or can be frozen, unglazed, for 2 months, well wrapped.