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Friday, July 9, 2010

A Cake for Now. A Cake for Later.

I am of the firm belief that everyone needs a basic cake recipe. I am not talking about the kind of cake that is covered in frosting and has candles stuck in it. Cheesecakes and fruitcakes also do not fit this statement. You know the kind of cake I am talking about. The go to cake. The cake that can be brought to the impromptu barbecue. The kind to serve at Sunday brunch along side of a good egg dish and really good coffee. The one that you can always have on hand.

I have been making this cake lately. I made it for the first time from a mix (shock..gasp!). While browsing through Stonewall Kitchens website for products I ran across Ina Garten’s pantry items that are sold on the site. Specifically I scanned down to the “sale” items. An orange pound cake caught my eye. Only $5.99, marked down from $10.95. I added it to my cart along with a few other goodies and waited for my shipment.

Flash forward 3 days. My cake mix arrives and I wrinkle my brow in a bit of frustration. To the mix I have to add my own butter, egg, fresh orange juice and orange zest. Hmph. This does not sound very convenient to me. So, I gather up the needed ingredients, lugged out my juicer and got to work. The end result was very good. A very good solid pound cake.

Out of curiosity, I took out my Ina Garten Family Style cookbook. I opened to the Orange Pound Cake recipe and scanned the ingredients. I had pretty much bought a mix for everything I already had in the pantry. Sugar. Flour. Baking Powder. Salt. Confectioners Sugar. Plus, this recipe makes 2 loaves. One for now, and one for later. I don’t need a mix for this. I can do this freehand!

Once again, I set out to work. It’s a basic pound cake recipe with all the ingredients you would suspect. A small amount of buttermilk added to the mix adds the slightest tang. Orange is the star here, so if you are not a fan of orange we really can’t be friends and you probably will not like this cake. It’s a triple shot of orange. Zest running through the cake, a sweet orange syrup infused in the warm cake as it cools on racks and an optional orange glaze to adorn the top.

This recipe makes 2 loaves, so make sure you have 2 pans before you start. I suppose you can half the recipe, but really..what would be the point of doing that? The workload would be the same to make two and you end up with an extra cake that freezes beautifully for the next time you need that “Go to Cake”.

I have a big container of blueberries that the markets seem to be giving away this week, they are so cheap that would complement that cake I have in my freezer right now.

Orange Pound Cake
(adapted by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

*If you are freezing the cake for a later use, omit the glaze.

• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
• 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/3 cup grated orange zest (6 oranges)
• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided
• 3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the glaze:

• 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
• 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and 2 cups of the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, and the orange zest.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the orange juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

While the cakes bake, cook the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with remaining 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans and place them on a baking rack set over a tray. Spoon the orange syrup over the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and the orange juice in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the tops of the cakes and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

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