When it comes to grocery shopping, two things I really love are coupons and my local warehouse club (BJ's for those on the east coast). I'm pretty frugal and both of these things help me to get great deals. Well, most of the time anyway... Sometimes, the excitement over using coupons causes me to do dumb things. Things like convincing myself that I need to buy an enormous container of whole-milk ricotta at BJ's because I have a coupon and it'd be a great deal! That's the downside to the warehouse club, especially with a family of only two people - you really need to be conscious not to buy more than you can use. Clearly I wasn't this time so I found myself with this huge container of ricotta and in desperate need of recipes.
I turned to some of my cookbooks from the Italian chef herself, Giada de Laurentiis, because I knew she was bound to have some ideas for all of the ricotta. Sure enough, lots of options! I'd actually tried (and loved) Giada's lemon ricotta cookies last year so I was intrigued when I saw this pound cake, yet another dessert recipe that used ricotta. The pound cake is flavored with lemon zest (Giada used orange zest but I only had lemons in the house) and Amaretto (an almond-flavored liqueur). Both flavors were subtle but lovely in this dense, moist cake. Macerated strawberries added a sweet, colorful finishing touch to the cake. I had to bake my cake about an extra 10-12 minutes beyond the time recommended in the recipe, so you really want to be sure to test the middle well before pulling the cake from the oven. Also, you aren't going to want to use a loaf pan smaller than the one indicated if you're making the full recipe or you may well end up with cake batter all over your oven. Some of the reviewers over at Food Network suggested a bundt pan for this recipe, which I think would also work well.
Ricotta Lemon Pound Cake with Strawberries
adapted from Giada's Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Amaretto
1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl whisk the cake flour, baking powder and salt to combine.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Add the vanilla, lemon zest, and Amaretto and mix until combined. A little at a time, add the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a small bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit until the juices have pooled around the strawberries.
To serve, slice the cake and serve with a spoonful of strawberries and their juices over the top of the cake.