Pound cake is a wonderful thing and if you ask me, it’s not made often enough. So, here’s my ultimate favorite; a ricotta pound cake, that bakes up perfectly and is moist and buttery as can be.
The origins of pound cake lie in Northern Europe and date back to the early 18th century. The name itself, ”pound cake”, comes from the fact that the original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. No leaveners, such as baking soda or baking powder were used. Instead, air was whipped into the batter while blending. At this time, many were unable to read, so this simple recipe made it both easy to remember and make.
But, the funny thing is, a cake made of one pound of each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour would yield a very large cake, enough to feed multiple families. Food historians believe, somewhere around the 1800’s the portions of the ingredients were adjusted to make a substantially smaller, and lighter cake, yet the name of the cake stuck. It was until the 1900’s that leaveners, as we know them, got added to the mix.
Best Flour for Making Pound Cake:
My go-to flour of choice when making this ricotta pound cake or any other, is cake flour. Cake flour is much lighter than all-purpose flour. Lighter flour allows for the butter to be the real star. Pound cake is a dense cake as is, you don’t want to overdo it.
What is Cake Flour?
Cake flour, for those who don’t know, is a low protein flour that’s milled into a fine consistency. It has about 7-9% protein, while all-purpose flour, which is a harder flour, has between 10-12%. What this means, when baking, is that cake flour’s lower protein means less gluten is formed as you mix the batter together. And less gluten formation equals a much softer, fluffier, more delicate texture.
Homemade Cake Flour:
All-purpose flour, bread flour and cake flour are three types of flours I typically keep in my pantry, but not everyone does this. So here is a cake flour substitute that you can whip up in a pinch.
- Step 1: Measure 1 cup all-purpose flour. Remove 2 level Tablespoons.
- Step 2: Measure level 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch. Add to the flour.
- Step 3: Sift this mixture together 2-3 times. Sifting is important because it properly mixes the two ingredients together, but it also aerates the mixture, so the consistency is like real cake flour.
- Step 4: Measure 1 cup from this mixture. Note: because sifting can produce more volume because it adds air, you may have a little extra left over to be discarded.
Ricotta cheese is a whey cheese that can be made from sheep, cow, goat, or Italian water buffalo milk whey left over from the production of other cheese making. It is made by coagulating proteins, albumin, and globulin, that are left over after the casein is used to make cheese.
Ricotta, which translates to “recooked” in Italian, is produced by passing the liquid through a fine cloth so the curd is left behind. Like cottage cheese the liquid is strained through a fine cloth, so the curd is left behind. Similar in texture to cottage cheese, it too can have varying fat content but has a slightly sweet taste. Production of ricotta dates to the Bronze Age in Italy.
In the US, ricotta is commonly made from whole milk instead of whey. In this case, the process is the same as making any type of cheese—you heat the milk, coagulate it, and then strain the curds from the whey to form a soft, fresh, spreadable cheese product. Ricotta cheese, of any variety, makes a fantastic baking ingredient adding a softness in texture and subtle taste that is remarkable.
Whether you know it or not, March 4th, is national pound cake day and perhaps the perfect day for you to try your hand at this killer cake which is fantastic on its own or piled high with mixed berries and whipped cream so be sure to make it again during peak berry season.
Ricotta Pound Cake
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon Amaretto
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with butter.
- Step 2 In a medium mixing bowl add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well and set near your work station.
- Step 3 Using a kitchen mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the butter, ricotta, and sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla, and Amaretto and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture in three additions and mix until just incorporated.
- Step 4 Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to level. Place in the oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45-50 minutes.
- Step 5 Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve as is or with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream.
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