As I sit in my office, staring out at the lovely blanket of snow covering the Portrait Gallery like a layer of meringue, I long for my kitchen. It’s days like this that scream for my flour dusted apron, a mixing bowl and some cake batter (I’m thinking chiffon cake, in case you’re wondering). But for those of you who were able to take a snow day (not that I’m jealous or anything), can you do me a favor? Can you bake something lovely and wonderful and tell me about it? Because I want to live vicariously through you guys.
I think we could all do with a little bit of citrus right about now, wouldn’t you agree? And since blood oranges are all over the supermarkets lately, why not use them? To me, blood oranges are like the vampires of citrus fruit. They look all innocent and normal on the outside, but on the inside, they’re bursting with brilliant ruby flesh. It’s also entirely possible I read waayyyy too much Anne Rice in my youth (and fyi, real vampires DON’T sparkle). Either way, blood oranges have always been a favorite of mine to not only eat, but to use in baking. I’ve made blood orange shortbread cookies, blood orange muffins, blood orange scones…well, you get the picture. But my favorite recipe was one I made back in college – a blood orange pound cake. I used a pound cake recipe from a roommate’s grandmother, altering the wet ingredients to compensate for the juice of the blood orange. It was always a hit in the dorm (we had a big communal kitchen that I frequently took over to make sweets during exam week) and an even bigger hit when I brought it home during school breaks. But somewhere along the way, I lost that original pound cake recipe and have yet to find one that measures up to it.
When I came across some blood oranges at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, I decided to try once again to recreate the pound cake of my college years. I selected a Barefoot Contessa Orange Pound Cake recipe since I’d had such fabulous baking results with Ina before. It ended up making two beautiful loaves of cake, showcasing the slightly sweeter flavors of the blood orange. And it was a huge hit with The Boy’s co-workers. But after a discussion with Thrifty DC Cook, we both agreed it wasn’t a true pound cake. And I’m from the South…so I know pound cake. And while this would make a lovely addition to a snowy brunch, I am still on the hunt for that perfect blood orange pound cake recipe.
Recipe: Blood Orange Tea Cake
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar 4 extra large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup orange zest (which requires 4-6 oranges, depending on size)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup blood orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest. Using the back of a fork or spoon, grind the zest into the sugar until the sugar starts to tint slightly orange. All of the zest won’t grind into the sugar, which is fine.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a tall or large measuring container, combine the buttermilk, orange juice and vanilla. Whisk it all together and set aside.
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing the egg to fully incorporate before adding the next one.
- Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures in alternate batches to the creamed sugar mixture. Make sure to begin and end with the flour mixture. Between each batch of flour and buttermilk, beat the mixture to incorporate the ingredients before adding the next batch.
- Pour the batter into the two prepared loaf pans and gently shake to evenly distribute it throughout the pan. Bake the loaves for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
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