Happy New Year, my friends! Did everyone have a nice holiday? Are you all settled back into your daily grind? My holidays were way too short. I worked up until Christmas Eve and was back to work on the 2nd. In between I stuffed my face almost daily while enjoying the company of family and friends. When not being a glutton, I was a sloth, drowning myself in two major time suckers – the Breaking Bad marathon and Candy Crush Saga. Now two weeks into the new year, I am still lugging around the 5 pounds I gained from overindulgence, but I am slooooowly coming out of hibernation. Like many others after the new year, I am trying to get more organized, eat healthier (slightly) and do (a little) more exercise. This year, I am hoping to have more balance in my life, which means less overtime work and hopefully more blogging.
With that being said, I give to you the first recipe of the year – Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Pound Cake. This loaf was inspired by a television show called “Come Dine with Me Canada“. Have you ever watched this show? It’s quite interesting, really. Five complete strangers, who are amateur chefs, compete to see who could host the best dinner party. It’s a hoot because the show captures everything, including interactions/clashes between different personalities and mistakes in the kitchen made by the sometimes drunken hosts. I wonder how I would fare on the show? Anyway, one of the recipes that caught my eye was on an Italian themed episode. The recipe was for Torta di Ricotta e Mandorle (Ricotta & Almond Cake). I never knew you could use ricotta in baking. I guess it is an Italian thing.
So, I found the recipe on-line, but it had way too many ingredients and looked too involved for my current semi-lazy state. All I wanted was a simple recipe to use up some leftover ricotta I had from making spinach wrapped in phyllo (remind me to post this recipe, it was so good). I opted for a recipe from Simply Recipes instead, which only had a few ingredients and did not require much effort.
As usual, I made some substitutions to try to make the recipe healthier. I used some whole wheat flour in place of white and decreased the amount of sugar slightly. I also used some egg whites in place of whole eggs. This was mainly because I had a bunch of leftover egg whites from making crème brûlée for our New Year’s Eve feast.
The pound cake was a bit dense in my opinion, but I think this was to be expected from including the ricotta. Omitting some of the fat from the egg yolk probably also affected the texture. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good and even better when warmed up.
Recipe (adapted from Simply Recipes)
- 1 3/4 cups (250 g) all purpose flour (I used 1 1/4 cup white flour plus 1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 230 g) ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (300 g) (I used 1 1/4 cup)
- 3 large eggs (I used 3/4 cup egg white plus 1 large egg)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (I used 2 tsp lemon extract)
- 1 cup (5 ounces, 140 g) blueberries (I used frozen)
- Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan, smearing the inside with butter. In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Use an electric mixer (you can mix by hand but will get better results if you use an electric mixer) to beat together the butter, ricotta, and sugar, on high speed, for 3 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on medium speed for one minute after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little curdled at this point. It isn’t curdled, it just looks that way.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions, until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Stir in the blueberries.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula. Place on a baking sheet on the middle oven rack of the oven. (This will help moderate the temperature at the bottom of the pan.) Bake for 65 to 75 minutes (I baked for about 80min), or until a toothpick comes out clean. For the last 10 minutes of baking you may want to put a sheet of aluminum foil over the top of the pan to keep it from browning further.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Then run a dull knife around the edge of the cake to make sure it is separated from the pan. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Let cook completely before slicing.