It doesn’t take a lot of inspire me to bake. I had two ingredients that I typically don’t have on hand, orange zest and extra large eggs, so Ina Garten’s Perfect Pound Cake was next up on my must-bake list. The recipe caught my eye because it involves things that I don’t typically do when I bake, like sifting the flour THREE times (I only sifted twice because I was using a sieve, and it was just too time consuming and messy), coating the inside of the tube pan with sugar, mixing the wet ingredients for 5 minutes, adding the dry and wet ingredients in multiple batches, and not pre-heating the oven. It turns out that sifting the flour produced a dense but tender crumb which was beautifully flecked with vanilla bean seeds and orange zest. In addition to visual interest, the orange zest also provides a light floral note to the cake. My favorite component of this cake is the the sweet, crunchy, sugary top crust that formed and adds a nice textural contrast to the rest of the cake. Because this cake seems a bit sweeter than the usual pound cakes I make, it would be an especially perfect complement to coffee or tea. My final verdict is that while I’m pleased with how the cake turned out, and it does set itself apart from your usual pound cake, the extra steps of sifting the flour are a bit too high maintenance for me to put this into my bake-often repertoire.
Perfect Pound Cake
Makes 1 12-cup tube pan cake; 12 servings
(from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten – http://www.barefootcontessa.com/cookbooks_details.aspx?CookbookID=33; My notes are in italics between [ ]. )
Baking spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy
1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar [I used turbinado sugar]
3 cups sifted cake flour (measure sifted flour by spooning it lightly into the measuring cup.)
1 tsp. kosher salt
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean [I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste instead]
2 tsp. grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1 cup heavy cream
- Do not preheat the oven. Place a rack in the oven so the cake will sit in the center. Generously spray a 12-cup tube pan (not one with a removable bottom!) or 2 loaf pans (each 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches) with the baking spray to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the demerara sugar, tilting the pan or pans to make an even coating of the sugar over the bottom and sides. Set aside.
- Combine the sifted cake flour and salt and pass the mixture through a sieve or a sifter from one bowl into another 3 times [I only did this 2 times because it took up way too much time]. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, and orange zest.
- Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the cream and beginning and ending with flour, and scraping down the sides of the bowl to combine. (Don’t worry if it looks a little curdled.) Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes. The batter should be very light and fluffy.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the top, and place in the cold oven.
- Turn the oven to 350°F, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the cake, rounded side up, to a wire rack and let cool completely.
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