Easy to look at and easy to make, this orange pound cake is totally gift worthy. The recipe combines my favorite pound cake and lemon cake recipes, and substitutes orange zest for lemon–at the behest of someone special who loves both of these things.
If you like a dense pound cake, which is really what a pound cake should be, this recipe is for you. For extra points, I suggest adding whipped cream spiked with citrus or liquor, or a scoop of ice cream. Orange or vanilla both work for a “creamsicle” effect, but I use Bourbon in anything and everything–including whipped cream.
Here are a few pound cake-specific tips. My oven runs hot and I’m finally considering an oven thermometer (because even my superhuman reflexes haven’t been able to save every cake and cookie from a fiery end). In the meantime, I set the oven temperature a few degrees lower, and 25 degrees lower when I bake in glass. I also cover most cakes and pastries with foil after 15 to 20 minutes so they don’t brown before they’re fully baked. Some creative toothpick art will save the tops (so that foil doesn’t stick).
I covet that perfect, slightly brown, split crust on a pound cake. This particular cake achieves that state in about an hour and ten minutes at 325 degrees in a glass pan.
Make sure you rotate the cake several times in the oven for even baking. When you test this cake, and similar cakes, stick a toothpick in at a diagonal, and not directly into the top center. Often the cake will be set in the center and slightly underdone on top. The top will firm up faster than you think, leaving the inside dry–and this cake shouldn’t be crumbly. So keep an eye on it.
Adapted from Pound Cake with Blueberries and Lavender Syrup at epicurious.com.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh orange zest
- 2 teaspoons vanilla (unless you’re using out of this world vanilla like Madagascar, then use a little less)
- 1/2 cup whole milk at room temperature
Butter and flour a loaf pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees–or 325 if baking in glass.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until it’s pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time (I crack them into a separate bowl before I start mixing) and beat well after each addition. Then beat in zest and vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour. Don’t over mix, stop when the ingredients are just combined–I scrape down the bowl sides with a rubber spatula as well.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until golden and just set. You can test with a tooth pick, but the cake should bake in an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. If using syrup, I use this recipe from Ina Garten, courtesy of the Food Network, instead of the lavender:
Cook 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup fresh lemon or orange juice in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, cool for 10 minutes, and invert them onto a rack set over a tray. I like to poke a few evenly spaced holes with a toothpick, then spoon the syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.