For 33 years or so, ricotta cheese eluded me.
I don't think I was actively avoiding it, and I may have actually eaten it in some lasagna or random cheesecake somewhere, but I just didn't know much about it or foods containing it. Then, I had some incredible ricotta gnocchi at a pretty excellent restaurant in Charleston that made me OH-so-happy. SO light and fluffy and SO, so tasty. All my life, I had thought of gnocchi as dense and bland, and this was the absolute opposite. It literally melted in my mouth and was as pillow-esque as could be. I daresay I'll never forget it, and hope to try to recreate it myself sometime soon...or at least go back to Charleston and order it again!
"Ricotta" literally means recooked, but we don't have to focus on that. As I understand it, it's essentially composed of curds that are made from the whey left over from the production of other cheeses. It adds a moistness and richness to pound cake that goes above and beyond what you'd usually expect, which is saying a lot since pound cake is, by definition, moist and rich.
Try this cake! Even if you think cheese in cake batter is weird, you never know for sure until you try. I learned that the hard way and wasted 33 years of prime ricotta gnocchi eating time. The simple maple glaze is nice, but definitely not required (and I got mine a little too thick!)!
Recooked Vanilla Pound Cake
Makes 1 bundt cake or 1 9x5-inch loaf
- 1-1/2 cups cake flour (or all-purpose, if you must)
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan that holds at least 9 cups of batter or a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. You won't regret doing this, even though it takes a little extra time and effort.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Beat eggs in one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla extract.
On low speed, beat in dry ingredients until well combined. Do not over-mix.
Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth down with a spatula.
Bake for 15 minutes then turn pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning.
Lower temperature to 325 degrees F and bake about 40 minutes more, until cake springs back lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Remember when I was wondering about bouquets made of food? Well, wouldn't ya know it...