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Vanilla Bean Ricotta Bread

Posted Jun 10 2009 4:03pm

I received the inspiration recipe for this from a reader named Kristina, who is awesome for throwing me challenges like this. 
It was all about butter and sugar, which I can only assume was delicious...but probably also guilt-inducing, sugar-crash-causing, and straight up fattening.  With this version (as with all healthier versions of things), you can eat more of it!  I am going to be honest and tell everyone that I put a generous slab of butter onto one of my late-night slices, not because it needed it, but more because it was there and I knew there was none inside it.  And THAT is the beauty of healthy cooking -- choice.  Hehe.

Anywho, I'm really happy with the results of this bake-over. (Like a make-over, but with baking!...and I'm shocking myself by both writing this and then -- if I leave it in the paragraph -- actually putting such cheesiness out into the world.)  If you're looking for a breakfast item with subtle but tasty sweetness, a way more decadent texture than should be possible without butter, and a damn nutritious list of ingredients, this is your guy.  

Note:  Whole wheat pastry flour, as opposed to regular whole wheat flour, is a must here.  Find it at your local health food store or well-stocked supermarket.   

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  40 Minutes
Yield: 1 Loaf

1-1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2-1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1-½ Cups Whole Milk Ricotta
½ Cup Real Maple Syrup
3 Large Eggs
½ of a Vanilla Bean
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan. 
In medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together ricotta, maple syrup, and eggs.  Split the 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.  Stir dry ingredients into the ricotta mixture, scraping down the sides as you go.  Stir until just well mixed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Tap pan on counter a few times to remove air pockets. Put cake in oven and let bake for 15 minutes, then turn 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower the temperature to 325°F and let bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, the sides of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes more.  Let cool completely, then serve.

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