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Saturday, February 26, 2011

RICOTTA VANILLA BEAN POUND CAKE

I made another batch of homemade Ricotta Cheese - but this time I used some whole milk that was on the cusp of going sour...I figured if I was putting vinegar in and making it curdle...why not?  I had two different containers of milk and some half and half and some cream...I just put it all together and followed the basic method of my previous post...same amount of liquid...just different mix-up.  I had six cups of milk products (whole, 2%, Half and Half, and Heavy Cream).  The only difference I see is it is slightly drier...but I did let it drain longer and used a finer mesh cheese cloth.  It tastes wonderful...just like fresh Ricotta should taste!

I considered making the Glazed Lemon Ricotta Cookies but I really wanted something new.  I saw Martha Stewart doing pound cakes on Martha Bakes and thought that would be grand...so I googled until I found a few pound cake recipes using Ricotta...and tweaked them enough to make it mine.  It is awesome tasting, if I do say so myself!  I elected to make a Bundt style cake instead of a loaf.  I really like that look.  Hope you like it!

Ricotta Vanilla Bean Pound Cake
INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups of cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups fresh Ricotta Cheese
1 cup of white granulated sugar
1/2 cup of light brown sugar - packed
3 large eggs - room temperature
1 vanilla bean (split and scraped)

One Recipe of Vanilla Bean Glaze (below)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F
Prepare a Bundt pan (butter and lightly flour - tap out excess flour).

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt - set aside.

In stand mixer bowl, cream the butter, well-drained ricotta, vanilla extract, and sugars on medium speed until smooth and light - about 3 minutes. Beat eggs in one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl afterwards...may look curdly, but it will smooth out with the dry goods. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and blend into the batter.

Using very sharp knife, slice the vanilla pod down the middle. 
I used the back of the knife to scrape with.
Scrape bowl again.  On low speed sift in the dry ingredients (a second sifting). Scrape down and beat until thoroughly incorporated...about 1 minute.
Batter changes from curdly to smooth with addition of dry goods


Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth surface with spatula. Gently tap to dislodge any potential bubbles in the batter. 
In the oven and ready to bake
Bake for 30 minutes, then rotate pan and bake 17-20 additional minutes until cake springs back lightly when touched in the center.  The sides should be starting to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
Sides pulled away from pan - center springs to the touch
Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes and then turn out of pan onto cooling rack.  Allow to completely cool before glazing.
Turned out after 15 minute cooling onto rack for total cool down
VANILLA BEAN GLAZE

Ingredients:

1 cup+ sifted Confectioner's Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean - split and scraped
1/8 to 1/4 cup Half and Half (or water if you prefer)

Method:

While cake is baking, scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean pod into 1/4 cup of Half and Half and whisk together.  (or water is fine too...just get the vanilla bean seeds all loosey goosey in the liquid)
The seeds from the bean pod...black gold...
popped the two scraped pods into a baggie of sugar
to have Vanilla Sugar when desired!
Allow to sit in refrigerator while cake bakes....makes a nice vanilla tasting creamy liquid.

black flecks are the vanilla seeds once stirred into the Half and Half

When ready to glaze the cake, whisk the vanilla milk by tablespoonful into the sifted confectioner's sugar until smooth and desired consistency. Push through strainer if you can't get all the lumps out; you want a smooth glaze.  With cake on rack over baking sheet, drizzle glaze over cake with a teaspoon - allowing it to drip down the sides.  I wanted a thin glaze to nearly coat the entire cake...so I used all the liquid.  If you'd rather "see" your drizzle, use less liquid and make a thicker glaze which will stay mostly in a ribbon-like state.

Twice glazed - took the overflow and re-poured for nice glaze coverage
If you lose a lot of the thin glaze overboard, re-pour the glaze pooled below by replacing baking sheet under cooling rack and pouring from the corner of the original baking sheet over the cake again.  Glaze will eventually soak into cake and leave a very thin sweet vanilla coating - nearly invisible but shiny.  Gently transfer to serving plate (If cake feels too flimsy for any reason when transferring, slide a cake round underneath while lifting with your largest pancake turner - or a fish turner), slice and serve! 

Yummy...ready to serve.  With ice cream, with fresh berries,
with a hot cup of coffee...ahhhh
A scoop of Blue Bell's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream would not go awry on the side... neither would fresh berries and whipped cream.  Actually, if I had some leftover ricotta, I would mix it with some powdered sugar and some vanilla and put a little dollop on the cake slice when served...that would be mighty fine. 

This is a delicious cake...moist from the ricotta, with a crumbly crumb everywhere except where the glaze soaked in...that part is more dense....and very "vanillaey"...I know that's not a word.  But it's gosh darn good and worthy of a made-up word.  Enjoy!
Bon Appetit, Y'all
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