Holiday Recipe: Decadent Ricotta Lemon Loaf


Mamma mia.

By: Francesca Montillo, The Lazy Italian

There’s a new loaf pan in the house that’s begging to be used. This is what happens when there’s one too many trips to Home Goods, “just to look,” of course. Truth is, I can’t remember the last time I walked into Home Goods and didn’t walk out with several bags. There’s no such thing as “just looking” when I go in there. I am putty in their hands. And with the holiday season, I foresee many more trips there.

All in the name of “research,” of course. My blog needs new recipes, I tell myself. In addition to their wonderful housewares, linens, trinkets and gadgets, there’s the international food isle. They carry a large assortment of Italian chocolates, olive oils, spices and sweet treats that beg to be eaten. Rest assured, this isn’t a sponsored post, I am not being paid to say positive things about Home Goods.

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Here’s the loaf pan in question. It’s from Le Creuset, it was $30 and I didn’t need it at all. But I liked it and liked the shape and liked the color, and well, a loaf cake would look so nice in it! So she came home with me.

Now, what shall we make in here as she makes her Maiden Voyage in the oven?

I had a tub of ricotta on hand from a recent shopping trip. I also had lemons on hand, and since other baking basics such as sugar, flour and butter are always in my household, I opted for my Ricotta Lemon Loaf. It seemed fitting to use two of my favorite ingredients (ricotta and lemons) to make a delicious loaf as the first treat in this new pan.

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A few basic ingredients are all you need for this quick loaf. And how cute is my spoon rest, which I used as a holder for my lemon zest? Can you guess where it comes from?

This is a lot of lemon zest, it’s 2 lemons but I like things very lemony, you could probably just use one. There’s also lemon juice in it, so it’s very lemony.

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Mix together the dry ingredients with the lemon zest. Mixing the zest to the dry as oppose to the wet ingredients will assure you that the zest stays evenly distributed in the cake, and doesn’t sink to the bottom.
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Here, we’re mixing the butter with the sugar. I made this cake at the spur of the moment, so my butter was not at room temperature, which it should be for most baking recipes. As such, I microwaved it for about 10 – 15 seconds. This just softened it up a bit, but careful here, you don’t want to melt it!
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Always break your eggs in a separate bowl, and not directly into the mixer. This is done in case you have a bad egg or drop any shells. It’s easier to trash a bad egg from a separate bowl than if you’ve already added them in the mixer.
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I love this gadget! At first, I was like: “Do I really need a lemon juicer, I can just squeeze them by hand!” But I was so wrong. You get so much more juice out of lemons by using this thing. It’s amazing! And only a few dollars at, well, you know where!
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As is typical with many cakes, just mix dry ingredients with the wet ones until combined. Avoid overheating the batter. It’s just until combined.
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At the end, just mix the batter with the spatula, this will prevent overheating.

This cake is dense. It is not a light, airy loaf. It’s a cross between a regular loaf and a dense ricotta cake. It remains moist in the inside, almost giving the impression that it’s undercooked. That’s the ricotta that gives it that impression. For lemon and ricotta lovers, such as myself, it sure is a treat. All it needs is a nice cup of coffee to go with it!

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Ingredients


Cake

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
Zest of two large lemons
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk ricotta is always better, but you can substitute part skim)
¼ cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed from the lemons used in the zest)
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional – you can leave it out if it’s too “lemony” for your taste buds)
Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon extract
Sanding Sugar (optional)

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
2) In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld mixer, blend together the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
4) Add the ricotta, lemon juice, lemon extract and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5) Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and beat until combined, do not over mix.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes, test cake with a toothpick for doneness. Toothpick inserted should come out clean and dry.
7) Remove cake from the oven and allow cooling in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and place on a serving platter before glazing.

Glaze:
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the glaze ingredients. Spoon glaze over the top and sprinkle with sugar crystals, if desired. Allow glaze to set for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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