Another favorite tradition of the holiday season: baking and gifting the tastiest Orange Ricotta Pound Cake. A super simple recipe originally sourced from Giada De Laurentiis, it's my absolute favorite thing to bake and gets all the rave from family and friends!
The recipe yields 1 9x5x3-inch loaf or 4 mini loaves. I use the mini aluminum loaves that come in a pack, which I find are much easier for gifting purposes.
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 table spoon granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 orange, zested (clementines are great, too!)
- 2 tablespoons amaretto
- Confectioners sugar (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.
2. Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest and amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. For the mini loaves, I let them cool completely in their pans and left the aluminum on for wrapping. Optional: dust with confectioners sugar before you wrap.
HOW TO PACKAGE A LOAF FOR GIFTING:
I struggled with wrapping my bread last year, and this year have it down to a science. Wax paper works best for larger loaves, but I just use parchment paper for the minis. Cut a sheet of paper the width of the longest side of the loaf pan. Pull both ends up together above the bread, then fold the paper down several times in two or three crisp folds until it is flush with the top of the bread. Secure with twine and add a touch of greenery to finish. Side note: it's also a great way to 'dress up' giving a gift card, as it can be slid under the twine.
For storage purposes, you may want to place it in a bread box or bag after 24 hours since the sides are exposed.