Saturday, March 29, 2014

lemon blueberry ricotta pound cake


I made this on Thursday and I s#!t you not when I woke up the next day, the plate was in the sink and all was left were crumbs. The lemon is so fresh and fragrant, being so abundant in this peak lemon picking season. The blueberries are also perfect, juicy and plump studded throughout this moist cake. And we'll talk about this more down below but the ricotta cheese gives this cake such a moistness, which also lets us cut on the butter. Moist, tasty, and low-fat, what more could you ask for. 



Ah, lemon, blueberry, and ricotta, such a classic flavor combination and it works beautifully in this cake. But you may be thinking, cheese in a dessert? Well do you like cannolis? Of course you do, and you can thank the italians for figuring out that ricotta is the secret to creamy, rich, delicious desserts. 




I'm not very good at transitions so I guess I'll just start the recipe here. In a bowl, combine your flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk that together to get rid of the lumps and set it aside.



In another bowl cream together room temperature butter, sugar, and your ricotta. An electric mixer would be ideal, but if you don't have one a wooden spoon would do fine. You want to beat these together until they're light, smooth, and slightly thickened. I know I've been talking a lot about this mysterious ricotta cheese, really assuming that ya'll know what it is. But for some of you who don't, here is a little Ricotta 101. Ricotta cheese is basically the whey left over from sheep's milk when cheese makers make cheese. And if you don't know what whey is look it up. You're too far gone and frankly not worth my time, I have a recipe to get to. Anyways, sorry I went off again on one of my tangents. After about three minutes with a mixer, or five by hand, beat in three eggs one at a time. Beat in one egg and once you can't see it any more and in the next. I should mention that because the ricotta cheese is so creamy and rich, we don't need to add a lot of butter. And for a pound cake, which is a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour, this is actually pretty healthy.



Add lemon zest and vanilla. The mixture should be pretty lumpy at this point, if it's not you're probably not using ricotta. Ricotta is literally curds of milk so if it's not lumpy you must have performed some serious voodoo. Now it's time to combine the dry with the wet. In four or more additions you want to incorporate the flour into the ricotta mixture. When you get to the last bit of flour toss in your blueberries.



Don't literally toss in the blueberries, you'll make a mess. I just wanted to clarify because it's come to my attention that a lot of you take my writing very literally. I had someone email me about throwing their cheesecake into fridge and making a mess, no lie. If you're using fresh blueberries you can go ahead and add the blueberries directly in. If you're like me and have frozen blueberries, make sure they are thawed and completely dry before adding them into the batter. Don't worry about popping a blueberry and turning the batter blue, if you're carefully enough it won't happen. You want to fold the blueberries in while you are finishing the cake so as to not over mix. Remember, overmixing is the devil's way of making your cake tough so don't indulge the diablo. 



Grease a normal loaf pan (mine is 9x5 inches). I'll just take the paper that once wrapped the butter to grease the pan. In some recipes people specify whether to use veggie oil spray or butter to grease the pan but I don't think it really matters. In the picture you'll see that I made a foil sleeve for easy removable after it's baked. I call it the Pastry Quicker Picker Upper™. You can easily do this by folding a sheet of aluminum foil to comfortably fit the bottom of the pan. Remember if you do do this to also grease the aluminum foil. 



Now you're set to pour and bake. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Spread the batter so it touches all four corners and the top is even. Tap the pan on the counter to settle all of the bubbles and bake for 65-75 minutes. Mine took 85, but then again it doesn't really matter. All you need to remember is when you insert a toothpick IN THE CENTER, that the toothpick comes out clean. Remember, the residual heat from the pan will continue to cook the cake so if you're baker's instincts tells you to take it out you should probably listen. Let it cool on a rack for an hour or two, and only, and I mean only when it's cool can you slice it and indulge. 




But wait, before you can eat it you have to make the lemon glaze. This is completely optional and trust me, the cake is delicious enough as is, this just puts it over the moon. It could not be simpler. Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon juice, freshly squeezed accept no substitutes (glaze should be thick, yet pourable). Add more sugar or lemon juice, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency. Okay, it's going to look like a lot of powdered sugar but when was the last time you did something good for yourself. You deserve it. If you don't add enough sugar, the glaze won't set and get that hardened exterior. Look at the picture for reference. 




This pound cake is unbelievably moist and just slightly sweet spiked with flecks of lemon and plump blueberries. Besides the taste, the texture is unbelievable, unlike any other pound cake you have every tried I guarantee it. I think it's the ricotta that makes it so moist and creamy. And you can't forget that crust of lemony glaze that sits on the top and dribbles over the edges. Oh, I wish I hadn't eaten it all. I should start charging royalty on all these recipes. That's actually a good idea. From now on if you make any of the recipes seen on this blog you have to send me a quarter of the provisions. I'm just joking, or am I. Well, that's all for me this week. The recipe is just a couple scrolls down. And as always, 

Chow!



Recipe
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup (5 ounces)blueberries, dry 


for the lemon glaze, 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice + about 1 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (it's really an estimation you should be able to adjust the measurements to the right consistency)

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