Ricotta Pound Cake from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano

Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma


Welcome to Day 3 of the Dolce Italiano Contest in which you can win a free, personalized, signed copy of Dolce Italiano, the newly-released, highly-acclaimed Italian dessert cookbook by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante Enoteca in New York City.

You can read more about the contest in this post of mine and also over at Shelley’s At Home in Rome, home of the event, but here’s the gist: Shelley, Sara, Ilva, Jenn, and I are going to be posting recipes from the book over the next two weeks.

In order to be entered into the drawing for the free, personalized, signed copy of Dolce Italiano, you need to comment on the recipe posts; you can comment on all 10 over the next two weeks to maximize your chances of winning.

All comments must be posted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, December 7th, 2007 to be entered.

So, after you leave me a note here, if you haven’t commented on Sara’s Mosaic Biscotti from Monday or Ilva’s Chocolate Kisses from yesterday, do go over and comment.

When collaborating, we had to figure out which days we would all post our recipes. I, of course, requested Wednesdays to keep the What’s Cooking Wednesday theme alive and also to enrich the WCW collection with some delicious Dolce Italiano recipes.

Now to the recipe.

I’m a cake and cookie girl, so it’s not surprising that the first dessert I’ve chosen is in one of those food groups–namely the Ricotta Pound Cake.

I love any kind of cake and I also love ricotta, so I had a pretty good idea I’d enjoy this too.

“Enjoy” doesn’t do this justice.

I *love* this cake. LOVE THIS CAKE.

The ricotta gives an extra kick to the normally tame (I didn’t say boring–did you hear boring?) pound cake as well as an awful lot of moisture. I love how the outside is nice and crunchy but inside it’s actually almost wet. This is without a doubt one of the best cakes I’ve ever made or eaten.

And as Gina wrote in the book, it *is* even better the next day–that just didn’t seem possible after I took my first bite nearly fresh out of the oven. I really have to learn to trust the experts.

Ah, and another bonus? It goes great with espresso!

Ricotta Pound Cake
(condensed from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano)

Ricotta Pound Cake from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano

1 1/2 c cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c fresh whole-milk ricotta
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C) and place rack in center.

2. Grease and flour 9-inch loaf pan.

3. In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, ricotta, and sugar until smooth and light.

5. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition.

6. If you have a vanilla bean (I didn’t), split it lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with the blunt side of a small knife, then beat them into the batter along with the vanilla extract. I just used another teaspoon of vanilla extract.

7. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients to combine them, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat the batter for 30 seconds on medium.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove air pockets.

9. Put cake in oven and let bake for 15 minutes, then turn 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325°F (160°C) and let bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, the sides of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes more.

For some reason, mine took another 35 minutes, so do keep a close eye on it. Perhaps it had to do with the water content of the ricotta I used versus what Gina uses? Experts?

10. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then invert it on wire rack to cool completely. Mine came right out of the pan like no other loaf I’ve made before–the browned outside is key here. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

As Gina says, flavor is best the next day, and I have to agree. Leftover cake can be stored for up to three days so long as it’s wrapped in plastic.

Buon appetito!

30 days of thanks
Today I’m thankful for:

Ricotta Pound Cake of course! YUM!

139 Beans of Wisdom to “Ricotta Pound Cake from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano”
« Older Comments
  1. Sparky Duck

    well i know whats for dessert tonight, even though ricotta makes me sick as a dog

  2. Pasticcera

    Ricotta cake is one of my favorite standbys. I’ll have to try this one.

  3. The Daily Rant

    THIS is a beautiful picture! And if it tastes even 1/2 as good, I might give up Entemann’s forever!

  4. Vicki

    Ooh! I’ve got ricotta in the fridge right now. Have GOT to make this!

  5. Concetta

    Looks so good, Michelle! I’m printing out the recipe as I type. :) My nonna (who lives next door) makes something very similar… I should really get the recipe from her too. Thank you for sharing! I love, love, love your recipe posts. 8)

  6. Suzana

    Wow, beautiful colours in such a nice cake! I might have to try this one pretty soon – with an espresso of course!

  7. sognatrice

    Wow! Let’s see if I can answer some questions that have come up….

    I used Flour 00, which says on the bag that’s it’s for “dolci.” It looks like the cake flour I’d have used in the States as opposed to the other kind, which I use only for, say, coating fish for frying.

    And Judith, that vanilla extract sounds outstanding!

    *Late Bloomer, I’m sorry I don’t know a thing about substitutes in France; perhaps there’s some info if you Google? I get my baking powder shipped in to be safe 😉

    *Karen, about keeping track of the comments, our very own Sara has it all under control and will do a randomizer thingee. Yeah, obviously I know *nothing* about it 😉

    Thanks to everyone who commented, especially newcomers to my blog and those who have *already* baked and loved this ricotta cake.

    And to everyone else–make it! You won’t be disappointed!

  8. Susan

    My mom made this yesterday and it is delicious!! My kids loved it, too, so I may even attempt it myself. It looks much easier than the cookies. :)

    BTW your gingerbread post made me chuckle. I’ve attempted assembling and/or decorating gingerbread houses with my 2 young kids the last few years. They always end up looking, um, VERY homemade — and I don’t even bake the things. You can bet I’ll post a few photos in another week or so when we attempt it again!

  9. sognatrice

    Susan, you should definitely post photos of the gingerbread houses! I’ve never made one in real life; sounds like I’ll have more fun if I wait until there are children around 😉

    And thanks for coming back and telling us about the cake; you should definitely make it–it’s easy!

  10. Pene

    This sounds so much more interesting than plain pound cake. I’d like to try this soon.

  11. anne

    This pound cake looks so delectable. Impressive. Must try it this weekend.

  12. CollyWolly

    I love the sound and the look of this cake and will definitely try the recipe thanks :)

  13. sognatrice

    *Pene, if you do try it, please come back and tell us how it turned out!

    *Anne, bake away!

    *Collywolly, what a fun name you have–thanks for visiting and commenting!

  14. Deborah

    I love pound cake, so this recipe sounds especially enticing!!

  15. Susan from Food Blogga

    I love to bake with ricotta; it adds so much moistness. Lovely pic and recipe.

  16. sognatrice

    *Deborah, if you love pound cake, you’ll *love* this 😉

    *Susan, completely agreed. Thanks for stopping by :)

  17. Cindy

    I absolutely love ricotta and also enjoy a good pound cake. This looks like one I will try.

  18. Jessica_in_Rome

    yummm!! Mouth is now watering!

  19. sognatrice

    *Cindy, you won’t be disappointed, particularly if you’re already a ricotta fan.

    *Jessica, mine too…maybe it’s time to make another 😉

  20. cbright67

    Ciao! I just took my loaf out of the oven and it looks sooo delicious! (I keep shooing my wife away so she doesn’t pick at it!)

    I had the same experience, though, that cooking time took *much* longer than indicated so just cook until brown and you get a clean toothpick. After the initial 15 mins. at 350F, my loaf baked for an additional 75 mins. at 325F. In looking at other recipes, a pound cake typically bakes for 70-80 mins. I have a Hearthkit insert so my temps tend to be very even and consistent. My guess is that there a typo has made it into the book, but who knows!

  21. Katy


  22. Dolores

    I’m not here to test my luck at winning the book… I made this cake after seeing it posted on a blog that linked here and wow… it was positively transcendent. I abandoned my moratorium on new cookbooks and got my own copy immediately — it’s worth it for this recipe alone!

  23. sognatrice

    *Cbright, thanks for sharing your experience; always best to just go with what happens as we bakers know 😉

    *Katy, yum indeed!

    *Dolores, good on you :)

  24. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    Strong words for a pound cake but then I’ve found some pretty incredible pound cakes. Guess I must have to try this but after Christmas! Looks really lushly beautiful in your photo.

  25. plongstocking

    ok, I don’t think I’ve posted to this recipe yet. If I have, I’m not meaning to get my name in twice. Once is fair. The pics of the goodies look sooo good. I’ve decided to get the book for my sister for Christmas. But I’d still love to win a copy for myself :)

  26. sognatrice

    *Mykitchen, yes they are strong words, and I couldn’t mean them more; hope you give this a try!

    *Plongstocking, your sister will love this book!

  27. saraarts

    Reporting back after having made The Cake:

    1. Not crazy about the texture. I have a better basic recipe that uses sour cream and even comes out nicer than this when I use reduced fat sour cream, as is my wont.

    2. Not crazy about the blandness, so I did what I said and added 1 T freshly grated lemon peel and ½ t (should have made it 1 t) nutmeg. Also used salted butter, a whole vanilla bean, and a T alcohol-free vanilla flavoring. Excellent flavor resulted. (I did try the batter first her way, but it was just too nothing for me. I like a little more complexity, I’m afraid.)

    3. That thing about the timing? Yeah, the girl’s on crack. My regular pound cake recipe takes 90 minutes in the oven at 325°F. This recipe took 15 minutes at 350°F and then an hour at 325°F.

    It’s not your ricotta. That’s how long pound cake takes.

    It sure did pop right out of the baking dish, and it is moist and delicious. I probably won’t make it again, though. It didn’t overwhelm me with joy. Still it was fun to try, so thank you again!

  28. sognatrice

    *Sara, thank you for your dedication! I really did like the texture and flavor of this cake, didn’t find it bland at all–perhaps the quality of the ricotta has something to do with it because I’ve had some really bland ricotta and really tasty ricotta (like what I used). And perhaps I’m just used to *really* bland pound cake (I’m not normally a fan at all), so the fact that this had flavor was huge for me.

    As for Gina’s being on crack, well I don’t *think* she is, but I do know that she has access to a pretty powerful oven at Babbo, which may account for the difference unless it was a typo or something. I am somewhat relieved, though, I have to say, to hear that I’m not the only one whose cake took a while longer than the directions. After the first 15 minutes, mine got so brown around the edges, I was nervous that it would burn by the end, so I was just happy that it eventually baked through and wasn’t dried out anywhere.

    Thanks for playing along *and* reporting back :)

  29. saraarts

    Also, it occurs to me that she might not be using a pyrex loaf pan, as I do habitually. Maybe she uses something much less insulating, like metal.

    And no, I don’t really think she’s on crack. hee hee But yes, a professional oven is a very different thing than a home oven in an ordinary (not rich) household. (I’m just thrilled ours is gas, not electric, since we rent and have no control over this.)

    Very good point about the ricotta flavor. The best I’ve ever had is — get this — Calabria brand organic! (It comes in sealed plastic tubs, but it’s still even better than any fresh organic that I’ve tasted in this country.) Unfortunately, the stuff I used for this recipe was new to me, the new Organic Valley brand ricotta, which I know means not a lot to you but, for other North America-dwellers, I have to confess that I found just not that impressive. (And that’s disappointing, because I am a big fan of Organic Valley generally, esp. their butter.)

    Anyway, it was a worthy experiment, and it’s not like I regret the exercise, though it is bound to grow my ass a little more. ‘Cause it’s also not like we’re throwing away the results, you know? 😉


  30. sognatrice

    *Sara, good point about the pan. Sorry to hear you weren’t impressed with the new ricotta; to be honest, I *never* used ricotta in America, and it’s probably why I never really liked lasagna there since everyone seemed to put it in. I just didn’t see the point. Here though, I can eat it by the little log roll in the summer especially. YUM!

    Sorry about the ass thing. Mine empathizes especially since P doesn’t do sweets….

  31. jaci

    im going to try this out on my italian learning class- can i check a couple of things first thou- is that three quarters of a cup of butter, and how long on 180? i dont want to spoil it. x

    Yes 3/4 cup of butter and on about 180 degrees Celsius, this cake takes at least an hour, but it’s best if you keep an eye on it b/c oven temps and times vary; just reading some of the comments here you can see that people had different experiences with how long to bake it.

  32. kathy

    im dying to try this and there is an italian supermaket near me that makes fresh ricotta, it usually has quite a bit of liquid, do i drain this off first or does that give the cake the added moisture ?

    I would use it unless it really seems like too much to add. Does that help at all? Hmm….

  33. Sue

    This is going on my list for a Christmas dessert

    Enjoy Sue!

  34. Nan Rose

    My question is, put cake in oven and let bake for 15 mins at 350. Then turn 180 to ensure even browning — literally turn down to 180 and for how long? Lower temp to 325 and let bake until cake springs from the sides of the pan, and a cake tested inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 mins more. (Most comments said cake takes longer) Could you clear up for me about starting at 350, going down to 180, and for how long.
    Nan Rose

    Hi Nan, you turn *the cake* 180 degrees after 15 minutes of baking, not the heat down to 180; the heat goes down to 325. Basically, if the cake was in the oven vertically, you put the part of the cake that was in the front to the back, just switching it around so it browns evenly. Make sense?

  35. 02.26.2013

    Hi. Love your filled-with-info blog. Have a question ? Just once I was served a dessert called ‘Ricotta Cheese cake’. I have never been able to find a recipe for that particular version. Let me describe it. Rich ricotta cheese cake with raisins and ‘crystal’ fruit, in a rich pastry, latticed with pastry and finished with a tart confectionary sugar glaze. Baked in a deep spring form pan. My mouth still waters when I describe it. Creamy, tart filling and crispy pastry, rich with almond flavours. My guess is that the fruit was soaked in Amoretto, or brandy. Yum. And that was in 1984. Have you ever come across this confection in Italy? I’ve tried to recreate, but not too sucessfully … help!!?!! Oh .. yes: I made your ‘pound cake’ — also yum.

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