Friday, January 31, 2014

Ricotta Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

It's no secret that I love to bake. Given any excuse--company coming, neighbor in need, dinner invitation--I'm offering (begging!) to bring dessert. It gives me a chance to make something dense, sweet and caloric--and then to watch it disappear before I have a chance to lose my will power. Of course, I do grab a sample or two along the way--how else to know if it came out right?

For a recent family gathering, I decided to make a ricotta lemon pound cake recipe that I discovered on the web after tasting something similar at a friend's house. Unlike many pound cakes I've sampled over the years, which are often a little on the dry side, this one had a rich, creamy texture, with a distinctive tangy lemon flavor from the glaze I dripped over the top and sides. The magic combination of sliced strawberries and a side of Three Twins vanilla bean ice cream made this a memorable dessert that will surely have an encore very soon at my table.

The recipe for the cake is from the website What2Cook. The glaze is adapted from one I found in The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. The cake took me about 15 minutes to throw together, the glaze about 5 minutes. Using orange zest and juice in place of lemon would yield a result that was a little less tangy but equally delicious.

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake


Ingredients (Cake)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (13 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 to 2 lemons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Ingredients (Glaze)

1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
Zest of 1 small lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (or 3 mini loaf pans) with butter. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.

2. Cream together butter and sugar in a mixer, adding the ricotta and blending until smooth--about 3 minutes.

3. With the mixer running, add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, mixing until combined.

4. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until just incorporated. In order not to over-mix, I usually remove the bowl from the mixer and use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula for this step.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan or mini pans. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes for the large loaf, 40 to 45 for the smaller ones, or until a toothpick comes out clean or the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. If loaf is browning too fast but isn't done inside, loosely cover it with foil for the final minutes.

6.  Let the cake cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes before trying to remove it from the pan. As it's fairly moist, taking out the loaf while it's still hot might cause half of it to stay behind--not a happy outcome! When it's cool, run a knife around the edges, turn over the pan and gently tap it onto a rack. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes or overnight before applying a glaze or, alternately, sifting some powdered sugar over the top.

7. For the glaze: Combine the lemon juice, sugar and zest in a small sauce pan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Don't allow the mixture to boil. When the cake has cooled, poke small holes in the surface with a toothpick or cake tester. Gradually drizzle the glaze over the top, spreading with a pastry brush or spatula onto the top and sides. Garnish with sliced strawberries or other fruit if you like.

1 comment:

  1. Made this again for Valentine's Day. Added a tablespoon of orange liqueur to the glaze. Also think it might be nice to add some of this liqueur or some limoncello the cake itself in place of some of the lemon juice. Love this cake--especially something creamy on the side--like vanilla ice cream!