Ricotta Pound Cake

For my birthday, my husband gave me a copy of Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen.  Gina DePalma is the pastry chef for Mario Batali's famous NYC restaurant, Babbo, so she kinda knows her stuff.

I recognized the book immediately because I'd once borrowed it from the library.  The only recipe I remember trying and keeping was the recipe for ricotta pound cake--it was rich, moist and sinfully delicious.

Ricotta Pound Cake
(makes one 9-inch cake, about 10 servings)
Adapted from Dolce Italiano

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and dust it with flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and light, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of the bowl after each one.

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Beat them into batter along with vanilla extract. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and combine.  Scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat batter for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Pour batter into prepared pan and use a rubber spatula to smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air pockets.

Bake cake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking until the cake springs back lightly when touched, the sides have begun to pull away from the pan, and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 25 to 35 minutes more.

Allow cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully tip it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: the flavor of this cake is best on the next day. Any leftover cake may be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen in a ziplock bag.