Most folks would argue that Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee is the Food Network equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. For me, that person is Giada De Laurentiis. Her head-to-body ratio and mannerisms scream human bobblehead. Her cleavage-revealing tops make me want to toss peas at the TV screen. And people who pronounce foreign words in the native accent are inherently annoying. I’m not totally sure she gets a pass for being born in Italy.
Rant aside, I’ve tried a few of her savory recipes before and found them a bit bland. But when I saw that this ricotta orange pound cake was one of her favorites, I decided to give it a go. With her pastry chef background, I figured she’d know what she was doing in the baking department.
Sure enough, Mr. X-sXe declared this the best pound cake he’s ever eaten. I stuck closely to the recipe, extending the bake time at least 15 minutes past the 50 minutes recommended to solidify the center. The extra minutes in the oven resulted in a super-brown top crust that added a nice crunch. Thanks to the ricotta, the cake stayed very moist, giving it a nubby, cornbread-ish texture. (Don’t expect it to toast up the way a traditional pound cake does.)
A few recipe notes. You can substitute lemon zest for orange zest, and almond extract for Amaretto. The cake flour (pastry flour) was a bitch to track down. I tried Target, Giant, and Trader Joe’s before finding it at Safeway. Looking at the user reviews, some people who tried substituting regular flour ended up with a mess on their hands, so that’s one thing you probably don’t want to skimp on.