There are few things easier to make than a pound cake. (Few things better to make, for that matter). And you can find pound cake just about anywhere. But that doesn’t mean pound cake isn’t blogworthy. Far from it. Like a blank canvas, the basic equal-proportion pound cake recipe is a worthwhile place for bakers to riff and create tasty new treats. And this recipe is a perfect example of how a few substitutions and/or additions to the traditional pound cake can make something entirely new (and good).
This recipe uses most of the equal proportion of flour, sugar and egg, but then splits the fat between butter and sour cream. This adds more tang while keeping a rich flavor. Meanwhile, that tang is enhanced by a little orange zest. Topped with two different citrus-sugar glazes, you suddenly have a very rich cake, but with a tangy and slightly acidic core that keeps you coming back for another bite. If you find basic pound cake a bit cloying, this type of recipe is a good place to play.
Carolyn adapted the recipe from “Sweet” by Valerie Gordon. Sweet is a solid cookbook by a well-known pastry chef / confectioner. Beyond the recipes, the photos are beautiful. Our sons, drawn by the photos and the thought that “maybe Mom will make some of this for us” gave Carolyn the cookbook for Christmas. Smart kids.
The original recipe suggests using tangerines, and you can substitute them in the recipe, just adjust for the size of the fruit. But since we have Cara-cara oranges growing here at the farm, we chose to use what we have. The sweet / tart oranges and their very flavorful zest made for a delicious cake. And the boys did get their wish, Mom made them a cake from her Christmas book. There were smiles all around.
(Adapted from Valerie Gordon)
Notes Before You Start:
- No notes, this is a riff on pound cake, start baking!
What You Get: A good riff on traditional pound cake, with brighter flavor.
What You Need: A ring or bundt pan. A stand mixer helps. No other special equipment required.
How Long? 2-3 hours, with only about 30 minutes of active time. This is a big cake, so the cooking takes a while. Weekend dish.
- 3 cups (15 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, softened
- 3 cups (1 pound 5 oz.) sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
- 2 tablespoons grated orange zest (from about 4 oranges)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup (1 3/4 oz.) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (9 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, cost the inside of a ring, tube or bundt pan with nonstick spray or butter, making sure to coat all the inner surfaces.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl and a hand mixer), cream the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally, as you mix.
- Mix the sour cream, orange zest and vanilla together in a small bowl. Add to the batter and mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then rotate the cake and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake is cracked and golden brown, or a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. When done, remove the cake from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a cooling rack for 45 minutes.
- Invert the cake onto a cooling rack over a baking sheet, to catch any glaze.
- For the first glaze mix 1/4 cup of the orange juice, the lemon juice and the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, paint the entire surface of the cake with the glaze. Use all the glaze. Make sure the cake is completely cool before applying the second glaze.
- For the second glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining orange juice in a small bowl. Let sit a room temperature for 10 minutes.
- Pour the glaze very slowly over the top of the cake, so it drips all around the cake. Let the glaze set on the cake, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes. Serve.