I received a lovely loaf pan from my parents for the holidays, and was bound and determined to give it a try this weekend. The recipe I chose was one by Giada de Laurentiis that was featured in Food Network magazine.
I've made a few pound cakes in my illustrious non-career as an amatuer cook, but never one this perfectly moist. The orange zest gives the pound cake a bright flavor without being overwhelming, as lemon pound cake can sometimes be. While it certainly doesn't need it, I think this cake would be even more wonderful with a dollop of whipped cream.
My mother said the same thing. Of course, she thinks everything can be improved by a dollop (or six) of whipped cream.
Ricotta-Orange Pound Cake
1 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c cake flour*
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 c whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 Tbsp amaretto**
Powdered sugar, for dusting
*I didn't have cake flour on hand, but you can easily substitute every 1/2 cup of cake flour with 1 Tbsp cornstarch and nearly 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour. The easiest way to get the correct measurement is to put 1 Tbsp cornstarch in a 1/2 cup measuring cup, and then fill that to the top with all-purpose flour.
**I might actually have some amaretto, but we break into the liquor cabinet so rarely that it's become quite the trek to get there. (Up the stool, across the counter, over the fridge, etc.) My almond extract, however, was three feet away, so I used about 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of that, instead.
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter or shortening.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to blend.
3. Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and amaretto or almond extract until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.