The smell of citrus always brings a smile to my face. Whether it is the scent of the flowering blossoms or cutting into a fresh lemon, lime, or orange, I light up with delight. There is something so pure and clean about the aroma of fresh citrus. I guess that is why it is so often added to cleaning products. When I want to freshen the air in our home, I fill a saucepan with water and float some citrus slices in it. Then I bring it to a boil and it perfumes the entire house. This is a great trick when you have guests arriving! Since we had lemon pudding last week, I thought today I would make this Orange-Glazed Pound Cake, but you are welcome to use whichever flavor your prefer, or a combination of both!
Pound cakes traditionally were made with one pound each of butter, sugar, and flour (thus the name). As you can imagine, this made a very heavy cake! Over the years bakers have modified the method to give us a dense, buttery, but much lighter cake. This recipe from the folks at Martha Stewart Living is a perfect example. I was introduced to this at a picnic years ago. A group of food-loving friends and I met at the Robert Sinskey Vineyards in Napa Valley for a potluck picnic and wine tasting. I don’t know if it was the company, the wine, the food, or the location, but it was the most amazing picnic I’ve ever been on. For me, by far the most delicious food item was the Orange Pound Cake. Light, buttery, and full of orange flavor, I couldn’t stop eating it. Each time I make it I am reminded of that fun day in Napa with wonderful friends, wine, and food.
If you aren’t already aware of Robert Sinskey Vineyards, you should visit them. Slightly off the beaten path, they were featured as a must visit winery in Wine Spectator magazine. One of the first to get their full organic accreditation, they produce some of the best wines in the valley. In addition to Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a variety of late harvest wines, they bottle a pure Cabernet Franc, a grape typically used as part of the blend in robust reds like Cabernet Sauvignon. It is unusual to get to taste the grape on its own and a true treat. Sinskey offers tours by appointment and I heartily recommend you take the time. It is a fun tour that starts in their organic garden, goes into their caves, and winds up back in the tasting room.
And if the wines and people of Sinskey weren’t wonderful enough, they have two philanthropic outreach programs. Do yourself a favor and stop by Sinskey the next time you’re in the Napa Valley and make sure you have a slice of orange pound cake while you enjoy the view on the terrace. You will thank me for the introduction!
- 3/4 cup buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
- Zest of 2 lemons or 1 orange, finely grated
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon or orange juice (about 2 lemons or 1 orange)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
- 1-1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temp (2 sticks) plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 3 to 4 tbsp fresh lemon or orange juice
- A few drops of Boyajian Orange Oil, optional, see note below
- 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 350°F, with rack in lowest position. Butter and flour two 4-1/2 by 8-inch (6-cup) loaf pans.
- In a small bowl (or liquid measuring cup), combine buttermilk with lemon zest and juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
- With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three parts alternately with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with flour; beat just until smooth (do not over-mix).
- Divide batter evenly between pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes (tent with foil if browning too quickly). Cool 15 minutes in pan. Turn out cakes onto a rack; cool completely before glazing.
- ** To make Glaze: Place confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup; stir in lemon (or orange) juice. Glaze should be thick, yet pourable. Add more sugar or juice as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Set rack with cakes over a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Pour glaze over cakes, letting it run down the sides; let dry, about 30 minutes.
- Yield: 2 loaves
- If you are only serving one cake, leave the second loaf unglazed, wrap in plastic, and store in refrigerator until needed. May also be frozen. If you would like a more intense orange flavor or if you do not have fresh oranges available, I suggest you try adding a couple drops of Boyajian Orange Oil. It is as close to fresh as you can get!