13 October 2013

Pound Cake - A True Baking Basic

Look in any baker's pantry and you will find the basics - flour, sugar, leavening agents, salt, milk, eggs, and butter ... anything else is incidental and serves to jazz up the basic baked goods that are main elements for family eating - breads, biscuits, muffins, cakes. These are the baked goods that most of us started out making when we stood on a chair next  to our mothers or grannies and watched and learned and licked the spoons.

We learned that a basic cake recipe could be made special by adding just a few flavours ... cinnamon and spices one time to make a spice cake, apples and raisins the next time to make a fruit laden coffee cake, citrus juice and fruit zest to make a light tangy teacake ... but always there was a basic recipe to start from.

In Donna Hay's cookbook called the new cook, pound cake is the very first recipe that she shares in the section called 'butter and baking'. This is such a basic that she sets the recipe on the page that follows her brief discussions of flours and sugars, definitions and discussion on creaming, beating, whisking, sifting, and folding. In a simple pound cake, a novice baker can practice skills that will take them further afield in more complicated recipes ...

Hence, I poked about on my baking pantry shelf and pulled ingredients to make a basic pound cake recipe. Adding orange zest and juice to the basics made an orange pound cake with citrus drizzle and candied orange peel.

This is a firm and moist cake - dense of crumb and full of orange citrus flavour. In making the batter, I switched out the milk and added fresh, pulpy orange juice to loosen the batter up. There is a lot of butter in a pound cake batter, so don't be alarmed.  I used an 8-inch cake pan that is 3 inches deep so that I got a high, round cake. It looks positively statuesque with the semi-hard orange icing drizzled over the top and down the sides. The crown is simple strips of orange zest that have been soaked in water for about fifteen minutes and then patted semi-dry and packed into a pile of sugar, rolled about a bit and left to dry up with crystals coating the individual strips. Very pretty, indeed. The icing and candied zest give the cake a bit of sweet crunchy bite.

This is an extremely easy cake to make ... a good choice for Donna Hay to push as her introduction for the new cook.

Orange Pound Cake
Orange Drizzle and Candied Orange Zest
a slightly adapted recipe from Donna Hay's the new cook

Cake Ingredients:

12 oz. unsalted butter (three sticks, softened)
1 ½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 eggs
3 c. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. milk
5 tbsp. fresh pulpy orange juice
Zest of one large orange

Orange Drizzle:

1 tbsp. butter, melted
Juice of one large orange
Confectioner’s sugar – enough to make a thick drizzle – about 1 ½ c.

Candied Zes:t

Long strips of zest that do not have any white pith attached (about a dozen)
Sugar enough to bury the strips in a small bowl

Making the Pound Cake:

  1. Grease an 8 inch cake pan that is at least 3 inches deep OR grease a 9 inch square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and lightly grease that as well. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 315 ° F and place a rack in the center of the oven.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in a deep mixing bowl until the mixture is light, fluffy, and pale yellow.
  4. Add the vanilla and orange zest and beat in. Then, add one egg at a time, beating well between each addition.
  5. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.
  6. Add the about half the flour to the egg and sugar mix and beat until smooth, then add the milk and some of the orange juice and beat. Then the rest of the flour and beat, then the last of the orange juice and beat to make a very thick smooth batter.
  7. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Check the center of the cake with a cake tester at the one hour mark – the cake is finished when a cake tester comes clean and the top of the cake is golden brown.
  9. Cool for ten minutes in the pan and then turn the cake out onto a rack and peel away the parchment paper. Turn the cake onto a pretty cake plate and cool completely before drizzling with the icing and topping with the candied orange peel. 
Making the Orange Drizzle:

  1. Melt the butter in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add the orange juice and stir together.
  3. Begin adding confectioner’s sugar, stirring to make a smooth icing with no lumps.
  4. When you have stirred the icing to the right consistency, use a spoon to scoop up icing and drizzle it over the top and down the sides of the cool pound cake.
  5. Let the icing set up and then decorate the cake top with the candied peel. 
Making the Candied Orange Zest:

  1. Wash an orange thoroughly and dry well.
  2. Using a zesting tool, make long strips of orange peel that have no white pith attached.
  3. Soak the strips in a glass of cool water for several minutes, then let them drain and place them on a paper towel to dry for a bit.
  4. Pat them almost dry and place them in a small bowl of sugar, tossing them about with a fork to coat them on all sides with the sugar.
  5. Using a fork, fish them out of the sugar and let them set up on a dry plate. If they soak up the sugar, toss them again in the sugar to get a crystalline coating on them. Let them dry well before placing them on the cake top.

shared with others at IHCC - Pantry Magic


  1. Well, well. Learn something new everyday. I always thought you had to cook citrus peel in sugar water to make candied peels but your method seems so much easier and less messy. I'll have to try it. There's always a call for this around the holidays.

    1. Ooooo ... I think I have to make a distinction here ... there is def a difference between peel and zest. I used a deep cut on the zest ... true candied peel has the pith included, I think. However, the peel is soaked in several changes of water to remove the bitterness that accumulates in that white pith ... this candied zest is a fast fix ... and surely the way I'd go for this kind of an application.

  2. My goodness that is the most beautiful looking pound cake ever. Anything citrus has my immediate attention, loved reading how you did all this. Learn something new every day in food blogging groups. Beautiful photos.

  3. Oh my word woman! You have won me over with this cake. I can always smell the sweet intoxicating orange aroma from here. Wow! I wanna slice! Can you tell orange is my favorite? LOL!

  4. Pound cake, especially one that is intensely citrusy, is definitely my favourite kind of cake (yes, even more than chocolate), which makes me wonder why I've never actually made one before. This could well be the recipe that's going to change all that. Looks spectacular. I'm wondering about maybe substituting a bit of yoghurt for the milk/orange juice if I was doing a lemon version of this? Also "new cook" is not one of DH's books I've come across yet - obviously one I need to look out for.

    1. I think the yogurt would work well, Sue! I would, however, keep the lemon juice in the batter to really ramp up the citrus ... could be delightful with some poppy seeds working into the icing drizzle too ...

  5. I really enjoy a good pound cake & I love orange flavor! Your cake looks amazing, and your glaze with the peel is just lovely. I'll bet it was delicious.

    Funny story, when I was in my early 20's my mom asked me to pick up a pound cake at the market - I told my mom it was so frustrating because there were no pound cakes to be had - all I could find was a 12 oz. cake, that said it was a pound cake! We'll, I had to help mom off the floor because she was laughing so hard! LOL

  6. it looks so pretty and with the perfect crumb = that orange flavor must have been fantastic

  7. I saw this in her book but in lack and white it just wasn't that pretty. NOW it is definitely on the list. Lovely cake.

  8. Mmm... pound cake, especially one packed with orange flavor is one of my favorites. I have that book and will have to tag this one to make! ;-)

  9. classics like these are so important for the virgin baker and it's a shame we don't make them more often as they are so bloody delicious... yours looks, well, perfect is the best word I can find... and so tall too... beautiful cake xx

  10. Gorgeous cake! I love a good pound cake - they're so versatile - and your citrus variation sounds particularly delicious.

  11. That is one beautiful pound cake! Looks so simple yet so elegant! I love pound cakes, a slice or two is always perfect with a cup of tea. With oranges in it, even better!

  12. If it looks so good, wonder how it must have tasted :-)

  13. This is beautiful! Magazine beautiful!

  14. Oh Susan this looks divine! Wish I was close enough to pop round for a slice & cuppa!


Anonymous comments will not be accepted. Please be aware that due to spamming concerns, I must be able to track back.