Things I’ve learned between the hours of 10pm and 5am:
- Starbucks decaf espresso beans actually have quite a bit of caffeine in them. If you’re a sensitive soul like me, a mere 10mg is enough to give you crushing insomnia for 16-20 hours following your last ‘decaf’ beverage. The size of latte I make at home using the ‘decaf’ espresso has been providing me with about 45mg. My assumption is the decaf at Costa in England just didn’t have that amount so I slept fine.
- Two weeks of insomnia leads to uncontrollable crying outbursts, sore muscles and a feeling of helplessness.
- Bananas are the greatest fruit ever. Seriously. Every night around 3 or 4am, I get hungry (naturally) and then only appealing thing is a banana. I literally drag my butt out of bed, grab a banana, go back to bed, eat it in bed pathetically and then fall asleep within 20-30 mins of eating it. Co-incidence? No idea.
- Recipe developing, taking pictures of food and writing about food are really hard things to do when you just aren’t hungry and don’t like food currently.
Also, I’m not one of those people who eats a lot more when they’re sleep deprived. I know studies say that people do that and I’m sure it’s true for the most part but it isn’t true for me. Food just sucks right now. Nothing tastes that awesome or sounds appealing unless it involves a banana, a tuna sandwich or some form of a burrito (bowl or wrap, I don’t discriminate).
None of this has anything to do with this lemon ricotta bread except that I made it when I WASN’T sleep deprived because I really fancied it. I hadn’t made it in years and when I had some leftover ricotta sitting in my fridge, I remembered this amazing lemon ricotta bread and decided to make and share it with you lovely people. Baking with ricotta is one of my favourite things to do with it. Sure, sure, I like it in pasta and I also eat it straight out of the tub but baking with it produces the most lovely baked goods/cakes/cheesecakes you can imagine. Soft, tender, with a discernibly different texture to anything made with yogurt. It’s addictive.
I made one regular size and one mini loaf because the weather was blah and I wasn’t going to be able to get photos for quite a few days. I ate the little loaf and froze this one for future thawing and photographing. It just so happened that the sun came out when my insomnia had already taken hold and I just couldn’t get excited about it.
So, I did what anyone else would do who’s looking to meet their new neighbors: I shared. I delivered slices of this addictive loaf and started to get to know the area more. It lead to lovely conversations in lovely homes and what will soon be the beginning of beautiful neighborhood friendships. In a way I’m kind of thankful for my loss of appetite for that reason alone.
I’ll be making this again when (if?!?!) I sleep again…. and get my appetite back. You should probably make it this week or weekend though and then eat the rest of the ricotta straight out of the tub.
- ½ C soft butter
- 1 C sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 2 TBSP lemon zest
- ¼ C lemon juice
- 1 C full fat ricotta
- 1½ C unbleached pastry flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Grease and flour a standard loaf pan and set aside.
- In the bowl of your standmixer, combine butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat with the paddle attachment on high until creamy.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add the vanilla and almond extract. Add eggs, one at a time until fully combined and the mixture is light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Combine the lemon juice and ricotta and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the lemon juice/ricotta mixture to the egg mixture and beat until combined.
- With the mixer running on medium, slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. Pour in to prepared loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes then carefully transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store on the counter wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days.
Recipe source: Kristine’s Kitchen