There’s something about blood oranges. Besides the pop of pink the dark red flesh lends, it’s got a unique taste I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s not my favorite orange to eat (yes I have one!) but I really love baking with them.
This pound cake recipe came out as kind of an accident. I was trying, as I would, to do something much more complicated involving different layers/batters, one of which was a pound cake. In the process, I found a pound cake base recipe I really, really liked. And with a ton of blood oranges leftover from another project (see blood orange almond scones) I put the two together, used some tricks I picked up, and ended up with a truly wonderful cake.
The guidelines for how to make a pound cake are kind of all over the map. There is of course, the original: a pound of each eggs, flour, sugar and butter. Then there are cream cheese and sour cream variations. There’s pound cakes that add leavening and some that don’t, there seems to be disagreement over how much sugar should be in them, and what flour to use.
The first recipe I tried making was this one from allrecipes and it is good but I found it quite dry. I also tried adding egg yolks but then, all I could taste was egg yolk. I tweaked it to use sour cream, used a reversed creaming method and liked the tighter crumb much more. It was still a bit dry though so based on this nytcooking recipe, I switched to cake flour. The very fine mill did wonders.
Room temperature ingredients: Both the butter, eggs and ideally even the sour cream should be at room temperature before you begin beating. This helps all the ingredients incorporate together seamlessly. If your eggs are cold for example, they can shock bits of the butter to go back into solid bits and the mix will look ‘curdled’ (don’t panic if this happens, it’s just not ideal).
Add flavors into the butter & sugar: A lot of recipes will have you add zest, salt and vanilla after the eggs or with the flour. It’s better to add them into the butter and sugar because in the creaming step,
Beat butter and sugar: This is very important! You’ll beat these to to “cream” them, for 5 minutes minimum, you want the mix to be very fluffy. This incorporates air into the batter (especially if you are going the traditional route and not using chemical leavening) and helps the sugar begin to dissolve into the butter.
Real Cake flour: Some recipes will note you can swap 1 tablespoon of the flour for cornstarch as a sub for cake flour. If you’re desperate and can’t find it, that’s fine. I will offer that cake flour is ideal in cakes not just because of the cornstarch added but because it is milled more finely and uses a particular part of the wheat. The result is that it can absorb more liquid and gives you a much more plush cake.
This is a pound cake, so no subs on the butter, sugar or eggs as removing any of those will not yield the same cake and iconic pound cake crumb. As for the rest:
Oranges: If they are in season, use blood oranges! The glaze is amazing and so pretty. Alternatively, any orange will do. Please note the color of your oranges will lead to color variations in the glaze. For the bundt cake pictured I had maroon colored blood oranges, for the loaf cake pictured I had reddish orange blood oranges. You can usually tell the inside color by the outer skin: if you see lots of dark purple markings on the blood orange, the flesh inside will be quite dark.
Sour Cream: Most recipes use milk or heavy cream in pound cakes but I found that when I tried that they came out quite dry and needed more fat. Adding egg yolks caused a weird taste in such an otherwise plain bake. If you don’t have sour cream you can use greek yogurt or labne, they might add a bit of a tangy taste.
Butter: I used Kerrygold Irish (the 8 oz bar) in the cake shown and after a few trials I found I preferred it; it has a higher percentage butterfat at 83% and makes for a more moist cake.
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