I happened across a food blog event called Taste and Create in which food bloggers are paired up and cook something from each other’s blogs. It sounded like fun, so I signed up. I was a teeny bit alarmed when I saw who I’d been paired with: Megan is obviously a baker who specialises in fancy cakes, which are not my forte at all. I was worried I wouldn’t find anything I thought myself capable of cooking, but luckily I quickly found ricotta pound cake, which looked like the sort of cake I make to take to choir practice and doesn’t involve fondant icing. I briefly toyed with the chocolate cupcakes, but they involved piping bags and I just didn’t see myself with a piping bag; I think I’ve probably used one about once in my entire life, and that was for making Duchesse potatoes.
Next challenge: the American cup measures. Gah! I hate these! How do you measure a cup of butter?? Off to Google, and I found this handy calculator, instantly bookmarked.
So off to the kitchen with the scales and a measuring jug. Now I have to confess that even after I’d done the conversions I fiddled with the recipe. 340 grams of sugar to 170 g of flour?? Pound cakes normally have equal weights of egg, butter, sugar and flour, and I’m sure most Americans have a sweeter tooth than I do, so I reduced the sugar to “only” 200 g. This might have something to do with the fact that my cake took even longer than Megan’s to cook, and was very moist — er, soggy even. But it had a lovely crisp, caramelised outside which contrasted nicely with the golden yellow interior. It’s a “pudding” sort of cake; it would be nice with some soft fruit such as raspberries or blueberries, or even as the basis of a trifle.
So I’m not disappointed with my choice. Maybe I should put more sugar in next time though. The quantities below are what I actually used after my measuring/weighing/converting session; if you want the real recipe, I recommend visiting Megan’s blog!
200 g flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
170 g unsalted butter, softened
375 g fresh whole-milk ricotta
200 g granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180°C and place rack in centre.
Grease a 9-inch loaf tin.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together butter, ricotta, and sugar until smooth and light (I did this and all the subsequent mixing in the food processor).
Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition.
Split vanilla bean 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. 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.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth top with a spatula. Tap tin on counter a few times to remove air pockets.
Put cake in oven and bake for 15 minutes, then turn 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 160°C and bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, the sides of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean — in my case a further 45 minutes, but check after 30.
Allow cake to cool in tin for 15 minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.