Archive for the ‘what’s cooking wednesday’ Category

Ricotta Pound Cake

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!

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pumpkin Muffins

Last year around this time I had some canned pumpkin but wasn’t up for making pies so I looked for another option. I found a recipe for tasty pumpkin muffins, and that’s what I’m sharing with you for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday, the Day Before American Thanksgiving Edition.

I like this recipe because, well, I love muffins, but also because it’s yet another way to enjoy pumpkin. I heart pumpkin.

If you don’t feel like making pumpkin pies this year, give these a try–and throw in raisins for a special treat!

Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin muffins

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/2 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 c melted butter
  • 1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Now I could tell you to do the dry ingredients first and then mix in the wet, but you know what? I just mixed it all together at once and they came out fine. You don’t want the batter smooth though; when the flour is incorporated, stop, and leave the lumps.

3. Grease bottom of muffin cups or use foil muffin cups like I did. This recipe makes 12 big muffins, but I did 6 big and then a bunch of small ones; I’m sorry but I didn’t count at the time. Fill cups to 2/3 full and put in hot oven.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. If you’d like to use icing, I did the cream cheese one I put on my birthday carrot cake cupcakes here:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbl butter
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

I then sprinkled some nutmeg on top.

pumpkin muffins

Buon appetito!

30 days of thanks

Today I’m thankful for:

Pumpkin! Ooh do I love pumpkin in all its many forms, especially my mom’s pumpkin pie. Mmmm. I hope someone at home has a piece for me.

I also love and miss good old pumpkin spice coffee. Anyone know the best way to recreate that at home? I’m open to suggestions.

I’ve been adding some nutmeg to my (American) coffee before brewing in the morning, and that’s pretty good too. Can you tell I also like nutmeg just a bit?

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Roasted Chestnuts

How do you roast chestnuts? Read on.

Read on...

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pasta with Broccoli

A quick, easy, delicious recipe for pasta with broccoli.

Read on...

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Trick or Treat Tomato Eyeballs

What's Cooking WednesdayHappy Halloween!

Some of you have asked about what’s going on in Italy for this “holiday,” and I’m sorry to report: niente. That means nothing.

In some parts of the country, they are starting to get children involved with costumes and whatnot, but no one around here does any such thing.

This could be because I don’t have kids yet…because if you think my kids are going to miss out on trick-or-treating, well, you’ve underestimated me and my weakness for candy.

I’ll even have the good stuff shipped in from the US and distributed to the neighbors (for distribution to the children, of course, with other healthy treats encouraged too):

Halloween candy

Added bonus is that the kids around here most likely won’t have to cover up their awesome costumes with big ole coats like we always had to do where I grew up….

Anyway, back to the business at hand, I’m keeping up the Halloween theme for this week’s What’s Cooking Wednesday and giving you a quick, fun idea for a holiday treat.

But there’s a catch–you have to go here to find the recipe for

Trick or Treat Tomato Eyeballs

Why not whip up a batch and then head over to Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun to celebrate?

Ghouls Just Wanna Have FunAlso, check out the true ghost stories over at Tui’s True Spooks Blog Carnival. Make sure you turn the light on first though! There’s some creepy stuff in there.

And, since it is the last day of October and I’ve yet to post my Monthly Musing, I’ll give you a little bit of why I love this wonderful month as we say good-bye for another year:

Sweet sweet October
Only a few words to say
How much I love you…

Sweaters, fireplace fires,
My birthday, delicious soups,
And this year, puppies!

What do you love about October?


Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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