Warning: Baking this cake will fill your kitchen with the irresistible smell of oranges.
This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I saw recently in Saveur. It’s a buttery pound cake shot through with freshly grated orange zest and soaked with sweet orange syrup.
Next time, I’m going to monkey around with the recipe and try it with lemons. Oooh, or maybe blood oranges. Yeah.
Be sure to pour the glaze over the cake when it’s still warm to help the cake absorb the syrup.
A note on creaming butter and sugar together
This is an interesting recipe. Most pound cake recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar together before adding the dry ingredients. This incorporates air into the batter. And more air means a lighter, fluffier cake.
This recipe, however, tells you to use your stand mixer to whisk softened butter into the flour mixture—and THEN add the liquid ingredients.
I was really curious how it would work. The short answer? It was great.
What’s the difference between cake flour and regular flour?
This recipe calls for cake flour. You can substitute regular, all-purpose flour if you don’t have any on hand. Your cake will just be a little coarser in texture.
Cake flour is made from soft wheat, which has less protein and gluten than all-purpose flour, so it’ll produce a finer-textured cake.
Serve with a steaming cup of tea—or a glass or two of champagne.
Orange Pound Cake
Adapted from Saveur
13 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temp + more for greasing the pan
3 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. grated orange zest (1 large orange should be enough)
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbls. triple sec, or other orange liqueur
Yields 1 loaf
Before you start
- Be sure to leave the butter out on the counter for maybe 20 minutes to soften up.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Generously butter a 1-lb. (which is standard) glass loaf pan and set it aside.
Zest the orange
Grab your orange.
Scrape off the zest with a microplane or the smallest holes on a regular cheese grater. Just scrape off the top, orange layer. Avoid the white layer beneath, which is bitter as can be. I usually zest fruit over a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Makes it easy to corral it all when you need to measure.
Combine the eggs and milk
Put the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a bowl.
Whisk together. Set it aside while you deal with the dry ingredients.
Make the cake batter
Put the flour, sugar, and baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer. Give them a stir to combine with your whisk attachment, then attach the whole business to your stand mixer.
Toss in the orange zest. Turn your mixer on low and mix until the zest is incorporated.
Cut the butter into tablespoons. (If you’re outside the U.S. and don’t get your butter by the stick, just cut it into 13 even pieces.) Turn your mixer on low. Toss in one piece of butter. Mix until it’s completely incorporated.
Repeat until you’ve added all the butter. As you work the butter into the flour, the mixture will start to resemble little crumbs.
When you’ve added all the butter, your bowl should look about like this:
With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the egg/milk mixture.
Mix until you’ve added it all and the batter *just* comes together. When it looks like this, stop. (No really, stop.) It will be a little mealy looking. That’s just fine. Don’t overmix it. (Basically, the minute you get flour wet and mix it, it starts to develop gluten, which can make your cake tough.)
Bake the pound cake
Pour the batter out into your prepared pan.
Give it a few swipes with a rubber spatula or a clean finger to even out the surface.
Pop the pan into your preheated, 350-degree oven. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes.
Start checking it after maybe 30 minutes. If the top and/or edges look like they’re browning too fast, slip a piece of aluminum foil over the pan loosely, like this:
Tips for knowing when the cake is done
When it’s done, the cake will be golden brown on top. When you press on it lightly with a finger, the cake will spring back (not stay indented). And, when you insert a toothpick in the middle, it should come out clean.
When the cake is done, cool it in the pan for a few minutes. While it’s cooling, make the glaze.
Make the orange glaze
Put the sugar, orange juice, and orange liqueur in a heavy-bottomed, 1-quart pot.
Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves.
Bring the mixture up to a boil, whisking often. Keep a close eye on it. A 1-quart pot is a short little thing, and this mixture likes to boil over if left unattended.
Boil the mixture until it’s reduced by about half. It should be thick and syrupy.
Set the glaze aside for a minute while you liberate your cake from its pan.
Remove the cake from the pan
Put a few paper towels on the counter. Set a rack on top of them.
After 5-10 minutes, run a butter knife in between the cake and the pan to loosen the sides. Flip the pan over and gently shake the pan a few times to release the cake. Set it gently on the rack. (Be careful, it can crack if you’re too rough with it.)
Mmmm, warm cake…
Poke holes in the cake with a skewer
Grab a wooden skewer. (Or a metal one, or a cake tester, or anything that resembles a long toothpick.)
Poke holes all over the top of your cake. (Insert the skewer about 3/4 of the way through the cake.)
These holes will let the glaze sink into the cake, so make a lot of them.
Now, Saveur recommends brushing the top of the cake with a few layers of the glaze. For the life of me, I couldn’t find my brushes (no, not any of them), so I just poured the glaze over the warm cake and kind of brushed it around with my very clean paw. (Check first to be sure it’s cool enough to handle.)
It worked just fine. Just pour slowly, spreading it around with your hand as you go.
Cool the cake to room temperature before slicing.